Exercise for Diabetes Prevention and
Precautions for Diabetics

Diet Plate   by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, CPT 

Do you have diabetes, or have you been told by your physician that you’re going to have diabetes if you don’t change your lifestyle? Along with changing your eating habits, exercise is essential for regulating your blood sugar.

The Diabetes Prevention Program -- a large study done in people with pre-diabetes -- showed that 150 minutes of physical activity a week (30 minutes, five times a week) helped prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In this study, people also lost 10 to 20 pounds by making changes in their eating habits.

Your muscles use much of the sugar that your body produces, so it lowers blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance.

Research has shown that physical activity can:

  • Lower your blood glucose and your blood pressure.
  • Lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol.
  • Improve your body's ability to use insulin.
  • Lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Keep your heart and bones strong.
  • Keep your joints flexible.
  • Lower your risk of falling.
  • Help you lose weight.
  • Reduce your body fat.
  • Give you more energy.
  • Reduce your stress.

4 Kinds of Activities That Help:

  • Bike or do another cardiovascular activity that's easy on your feet. 30 mins, 5 x/week.
  • Stretch 5-10 mins, 5 x/week after cardiovascular exercise.
  • Strength train. 20-60 mins, 2-3 x/week.
  • Be active throughout the day!

Some special things that people with diabetes need to remember:

  • Take care of your feet. Make sure your shoes fit properly and your socks stay clean and dry. Check your feet for redness or sores after exercising. Call your doctor if you have sores that do not heal.
  • Make sure the weights you lift aren’t so heavy that you feel pressure in your eyes.
  • Drink about 2 cups of water before you exercise, about every 20 minutes during exercise, and after you finish, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Warm up and cool down for 5 to 10 minutes before and after exercising. For example, walk slowly at first, then walk faster. Finish up by walking slowly again.
  • Test your blood glucose before and after exercising. Do not exercise if your fasting blood glucose level is above 300 – your level can go even higher. Also, exercise is not recommended if your fasting blood glucose is above 250 and you have ketones in your urine. Wait until your blood glucose is lower.
  • Eat a small snack if your blood glucose is below 100. Know the signs of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and how to treat it.

References and Resources:

http://www.diabetes.org/

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/

http://www.diabetesnet.com/

http://www.diabetes.com/

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