Saturday, November 20, 2010

Exercise and Diabetes

"Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness" - this famous quote by Edward Stanley is apt for every one including people with diabetes. The role of exercise in the prevention and management of diabetes and its complications is very significant. Exercise is one of the four pillars of diabetes management along with diet, medication, and monitoring. Exercise is anything that gets one moving and active. To make exercise a part of one's life one may not need to join a gym or have a personal trainer. Small steps can make big difference in life. Adding 10,000 extra steps (30 minutes of regular exercise) each day' can really help. Exercise is the simplest. and non expensive habit which can provide multiple benefits.

Why is Exercise very important for people with Diabetes?

Exercise increases fitness and physical working capacity and improves sense of well being. Apart from this, people with Diabetes get several other benefits from regular exercise, which include:

• Exercise helps reduce high, blood glucose by improving the body's use of insulin.

• Exercise also helps in reducing weight and helps in the loss of body fat.

• Exercise helps to protect against heart diseases by lowering 'bad' LDL cholesterol and
increasing 'good' HDL cholesterol.

• Exercise helps in lowering of blood pressure.

• Exercise also help's in relieving stress, encourages relaxation, and improves your mood.

When you start an exercise program, go slowly. Gradually increase the intensity and length of your workout as you get more fit. Benefits of exercise' are always much more than risk of exercise. To minimize potential risks, people with diabetes need to understand and take steps to prevent problems before they occur. Never start a new exercise routine without talking to your doctor.

Exercise checklist for people who have diabetes

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms or conditions:
• If your blood glucose levels are constantly high over 250 mg/dl.
• If you have any symptoms of cardiovascular problems.
• If you have any evidence of retinopathy, neuropathy or nephropathy.
• Any other ongoing health problems that might limit your ability to exercise
Do not exercise when your sugars are very high or low.

Do not exercise when you have ketones in urine (Type 1 Diabetes)
Have a snack handy in case your blood sugar level drops too low.
Check your feet for blisters or sores before and after exercising.
Wear the proper shoes and socks that fit well and are comfortable.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising.
Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
Have diabetes identification card and your mobile with you while going outside- for exercise, even in your own neighborhood.

Stop exercising, if you experience any warning signs, such as severe shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain. Hypoglycemia can occur during exercise or during the next 12 hours that follow. So, it is advisable to check sugar levels more frequently when you start any new exercise programme. Following a regular routine of exercising, eating your meals, and taking your medicines at the same time each day helps in maintaining good sugar levels and minimize any kind of risks.

Types of Exercises

Aerobic exercise is recommended by most doctors. Do not confuse aerobic exercise with aerobics. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, dance or bicycling. Aerobic exercises make you breathe more deeply and make your heart work harder. If you have problems with the nerves in your feet or legs, your doctor may want you to do a type of exercise that won't put too much stress on your feet like swimming, bicycling, rowing or chair exercises.

Strength training, Done several times a week, helps build strong bones and muscles. With more muscle, you burn more calories, even at rest. Increased muscle mass and regular emptying of these muscle stores improves the body's glucose processing, a factor crucial in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

Flexibility exercises, also called stretching, help keep your joints flexible and reduce your chances of injury during other activities. Gentle stretching for 5 to 10 minutes helps your body warm up and get ready for aerobic activities. Yoga is kind of flexibility and relaxation exercise. Yoga and pranayama are very good forms of exercise, providing flexibility and relaxation, but some form of aerobic exercise along with yoga provides maximum benefit for people with Diabetes.

In addition to formal exercise, there are many opportunities to be active throughout the day. The more you move around, the more energy you'll have. These strategies can help you increase your activity level:

Walk instead of drive whenever possible.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Work in the garden, play with your child, or do some house cleaning every day.
Park your car farther away and walk the rest of the way to your destination.

Although exercise is very essential for people with diabetes, it cannot replace the requirement of medicine. By incorporating a healthy diet, proper medication, and especially regular exercise into your lifestyle, you can live each day to the fullest. Whatever you choose, whichever exercise is right for you, make sure it's something you enjoy and make it a lifetime commitment.

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