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Gym with Diabetes | What You Need to Know

An individual requires physical activity for overall well-being. However, a person with diabetes needs to work out to keep his sugar levels in the safe range. Gyms are the ideal place for a diabetic person due to the wide range of equipment’s available. However, there are certain aspects to be thought of when a diabetic person plans to gym.

The Benefits of Gym

  • Weight Control

Since weight gain is one of the major factors for Type 2 Diabetes, exercising should be part of your daily routine.  In fact, people already diagnosed with diabetes have controlled their sugar levels by including physical activity in their lives.

  • Reduces stress and anxiety

It is a fact that sugar levels can be affected due to different emotions.  Experiencing different emotions like anger, frustration and fear are common in diabetes. This leads to stress and anxiety causing fluctuations of sugar levels in the body.  In fact, it has been found out that HbA1c levels are associated with stress, anxiety and displeasure.  Exercising alleviates stress and tension and helps to boost up energy, both physically and emotionally.

  • Promotes better sleep

According to a research, people who don’t sleep well are likely to develop diabetes or heart complications. Sleep plays an important factor in managing sugar levels. In fact, it causes a spike or decrease in sugar levels. The interesting part is that not only lack of sleep affects the blood sugar; too much sleep can also cause fluctuation in the sugar levels.

  • Improves insulin sensitivity

Exercising has been known to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity. In fact, it is the best method to improve the insulin sensitivity. During exercise, the body burns glycogen, a form of glucose present in the body muscles. The more glycogen is burned, the longer the insulin sensitivity is improved.

To improve the insulin sensitivity, exercising should be regular too.  However, also be sure of the physical activities you do to keep yourself active. Different activities affect sugar levels differently. For example, activities such as sprinting can increase the sugar levels at start. However, it comes down if the session is long. By contrast, jogging or brisk walking are likely to decrease sugar levels.

  • Prevents heart diseases

According to a study, statistically there is no difference between those who were given medications to prevent heart diseases and those who exercised. In fact, people who have suffered with a stroke, physical activity have played a significant role in improving the condition.

The Risks of Joining A Gym

When exercising, diabetics should be extra careful so as to avoid fluctuation in sugar levels. The blood sugar can fluctuate amid, immediately after or even after hours of workout. Therefore, one should know about the various risks involved in joining gym with diabetes.


Hypoglycemia is a condition where the sugar levels are lower than normal. According to the numbers, low blood sugars mean blood glucose level going 70 mg/dl if measuring the whole blood and below 80 mg/dl if measuring plasma glucose.

Longer physical activity usually increases the chances of hypoglycaemia. The blood sugar goes down after a moderate to intense workout session and is often known as the “lag effect” of exercise.

The body uses two sources for energy, sugar and fatty acids. The sugar comes from the blood, liver and muscles and is stored in the form of glycogen. During the initial time, say first 15minutes of workout, most of the sugar for energy comes from the muscles or the blood. After that, most of the glucose comes from the liver. After 30 minutes, the body starts using fatty acids for energy. As a result, exercise depletes the sugar in the body. Even though the body recovers the sugar, it takes around 4-6 hours. The time can go up to 12-14 hours depending on the intensity of the workout.


Even though the former cases are usually common, sometimes the individual can experience hyperglycemia. Your sugar levels tend to increase if your blood sugar was high before workout.  As after 30 minutes, the liver starts releasing sugar for energy. However, when the liver starts releasing excess of sugar and the body has too less insulin; your blood sugar levels will rise. In fact, the blood sugar rises if your body is stressed or worked too hard.

Steps you can take to prevent the risks


  • Always check your blood glucose before working out in the gym to make sure your blood sugar is sufficient and whether you should eat a snack or not.
  • Limit your workout session to 1-2 per day. Additional sessions can result in hypoglycemia.
  • Take proper rest on your rest days.


  • Exercise in gym should be in a time where the body has enough energy for the workout. Therefore, eating a carbohydrate based snack an hour before the exercise.
  • After your workout session, eat something to replenish the energy that you’ve spent.
  • In case, you are trying to lose weight you must be careful to ensure you don’t consume more.
  • Hypoglycemia is associated with physical exertion. Therefore, it is necessary to carry any two of the following in your gym bag:
  1. Sugary drinks
  2. Glucose tablets
  3. Sweets

What exercises should you be doing?


Aerobics is a form of exercise that is continuous and elevates heart rate and breathing. This includes jogging, walking, swimming or cycling. Aim for only 30 minutes of aerobics daily.  In case, you find it difficult break it into chunks to feel comfortable. Gyms have aerobic classes for people who want a change in their workout session.


Due to elevated blood levels, the collagen (rubbery stuff that makes the joint move) becomes coated with sugar. This results in formation of sticky nets and losing flexibility. Stretching helps to break up the nets and become flexible. Moreover, stretching also releases dopamine which keeps an individual happy. Stretching is a simple way of improving the blood circulation in the body. This will help in better circulation of insulin to reduce sugar levels. Every gym would have an instructor that can help you for a stretching session.


It is known worldwide that regular yoga can reduce stress, anxiety and even sugar levels. Yoga is a one of the cost-effective keys of diabetes management. Since stress and diabetes go hand in hand, the benefits of yoga in diabetes care is necessary. Not only yoga improves blood pressure levels, it also helps in preventing weight gain which is another factor of Type 2 diabetes. Nowadays, every gym has yoga classes for people who are not able to do aerobics or not use the equipment’s.

Whilst the benefits of exercising have been discussed in various studies, the fluctuation of sugar levels during or post workout should also be considered. Therefore, regular monitoring is necessary for exercising. Moreover, good nutrition, sufficient sleep and relaxation are equally important. Therefore, consult your BeatO diabetes educator for proper nutritional guidance and counselling to manage diabetes.

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