Are you aware that India is the leading country for diabetes in the world? Currently over 60 million Indians suffer from diabetes with a projection of 109 million individuals with diabetes by 2035 as per the Indian Heart Association. That is a lot! Seeing as this condition affects over 7% of India’s adult population it is likely that you know someone with this disease.
Talk to them about their routine or steps they’re talking to manage their condition and they’ll surely tell you an earful. Dietary changes and their meal plans, the medicines they’re taking, how often they’re getting their tests done to check sugar levels and a whole lot more. But ask them about exercising and you’re sure hear something like ‘Oh no, it causes my blood sugar to drop low, or ‘I get too tired to exercise’ or ‘Where is the time’ or even ‘I don’t think I’m strong enough’. While some just don’t understand the importance of an exercise regime with diabetes, some are actually concerned that it may harm their health.
So what’s the verdict? Is exercise a must for diabetics?
The answer is a loud resounding YES!!Exercise actually helps manage your diabetes better by keeping your blood sugar levels in the normal range. Basically, in diabetes, the body has trouble processing insulin. Physical activity promotes insulin absorption in the cells thus avoiding excess insulin levels in the blood.
Another important benefit of exercising is weight control. Obesity is a major factor for diabetes as excess weight leads to increase production of insulin in the body. A regular exercise regime can help keep excess weight off which in turn helps keep diabetes in check.
People with diabetes are also at a higher risk for heart problems and high cholesterol levels. A regular exercise routine helps keep your heart healthy and increases good cholesterol in your body, keeping your levels in check.
Care tips and precautions before starting a new regime
Though exercise helps you lower your blood sugar but exercising when sugars are above 250mg/dl can make your blood glucose levels go higher.
Before you put on your shoes and decide to blast the excess fat away, it is advised to talk to your doctor. He may suggest certain suitable exercises, or change your medication timings to avoid low blood sugar levels or determine when to exercise in the day. He may also suggest certain foods before or after your activity. So be sure to plan your routine and discuss the same with your healthcare provider. In case you are worried about low blood sugar levels, ask for foods to keep with you at all times, especially during a workout.
Also be sure to maintain a journal monitoring your blood glucose levels before your regime and regularly once you start it this will help you and your doctor determine if you are on the right track or need to modify any exercises or medications.
If you are insulin dependent avoid physical activity when you have ketones in the blood or urine.
Which exercises should I do?
Note: Be sure to first discuss this with your doctor. People with additional complications caused due to diabetes may be advised against certain types of exercises.
Depending on your age, exercise history and other factors you can draw up a plan. If you are a beginner, take it slow. You don’t need to compete with your neighbour who looks like he was born lifting weights. Start with some light exercises instead like walking, stretching, climbing stairs, light dancing, yoga etc. and build up your stamina to include more.
In case you have a history of exercising, maybe do something a little more intensive like aerobics, cardio, strength training for improving muscle tension and brisk walking. While it’s always good to push yourself, be careful not to push too far. You can’t go from doing nothing to everything overnight. So take your time and be consistent for healthy blood sugar levels.
Also, increase your activity levels throughout the day in simple ways:
- Just get up from your couch and take a walk
- Spend some time playing with your kids in the neighbourhood park
- Take your pet for a jog in the evenings
- Ditch the elevators and use the stairs
- Make it a rule to stand and walk for a minute after every 30 minutes of sitting
- Walk to your neighbourhood grocery store
So whether you have just been diagnosed with diabetes or have been living with it for a long time, exercise is a must. Even if you haven’t done it till now – talk to your doctor and start today! Not only will it help you look younger and healthier but feel better too. And at the same time, help control your insulin levels.