Be Active with Diabetes

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Be Active with Diabetes
By Jenilee Matz, Contributing Writer, Copyright © 2013 myOptumHealth.
Last Reviewed: November 2014
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Help keep your diabetes under control with exercise.
Being active is a part of a healthy lifestyle. It is also a great way to help people of
all ages manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
How exercise helps
Exercise helps lower blood sugar. The body is more sensitive to insulin when it is
active. If you have type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, light to moderate
exercise may lower it. Ask your doctor if you should exercise when your blood
sugar is high.
Exercise may reduce how much insulin or diabetes medication someone with type
2 diabetes may need over time.
Health benefits
There are many health benefits of exercise. Exercise burns calories and may help
you manage your weight. It also helps reduce the risk of medical complications.
Here are other benefits:

The heart pumps strongly when you are active. It helps lower blood pressure and
raises good cholesterol.

Activity also lowers the bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

Exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Weight-bearing exercise builds stronger bones.

Flexibility exercises improve your ability to stretch and flex your muscles.

It gives you energy and improves sleep.

It reduces stress and anxiety.
Watch your blood sugar
Test your blood sugar level before, during and after exercise. This will help you
understand how activity affects your blood sugar. Know your safe range of blood
sugar levels. Speak with your doctor about what blood sugar level is too high or
too low for exercise. Know what to do when these numbers go out of range.
Exercise drops your blood sugar level so it's important for you to have a plan. If it
is too low, it is called hypoglycemia. Symptoms include weakness, dizziness,
irritability and shakiness. Keep a healthy snack nearby to help prevent your blood
sugar from getting too low. Your doctor may recommend glucose tablets,
carbohydrates or other ways to manage hypoglycemia. Know what to do if you
develop it.
You might be hyperglycemic if your blood sugar is too high when exercising. If it is
too high, your body may start breaking down fat instead of sugar. This produces
ketones. Ketones can make you very sick. People with type 1 diabetes should
avoid being very active when ketones are present in urine or blood. Know what to
do if you develop this problem.
Getting started with exercise
Before beginning exercise, check with your doctor. Find out which exercises are
safe for you. Some people with diabetes are better off with certain types of
exercise than they are with others. A few tips:

Start slowly. Work out for 5 to 10 minutes most days of the week and increase to

30 minutes. Gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity.
Find an activity you enjoy. Try different activities like biking, swimming or

dancing. If you have high blood pressure or eye problems, some exercises like
weightlifting may not be good for you.
Exercise with a group. Find a partner or join a group. Exercising together may


be more fun and motivating.
Drink water. Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your workout.
Take care of your feet. Your doctor may check your feet to make sure you have
no special problems. If you develop any sores or blisters, call your doctor. Wear
comfortable shoes that fit. Wear socks that keep moisture away from your feet.
Always wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace whether or not you are
active. If your child has diabetes, alert the school so that teachers and sports
coaches are informed and know how to help in an emergency.
The information about educational or therapeutic approaches is provided for educational purposes only. Certain treatments may
or may not be covered through your benefit plan. Coverage typically depends on your plan specifications and relevant guidelines
maintained in relation to your benefit plan.