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Best Exercises For Diabetes: How Fitness Can Help Sugar Levels

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Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects a large chunk of the world’s population. From mild to severe cases, diabetes can be a challenge to manage – medically or lifestyle wise. But this does not mean that it can’t be done. Conditions such as increased blood pressure and diabetes are said to benefit greatly by lifestyle changes. Remember, just because the journey is hard, doesn’t mean the goal is impossible to meet. Diabetics need to keep their sugar levels optimum as best they can and having a fitness routine can help with that tremendously. After a quick run through about what diabetes is and how it affects your body and sugar levels, we will dive into what the best exercises for diabetes are.

What is diabetes?

The food that we eat is broken down into simple sugars, commonly most of which is glucose. This is then released into your bloodstream which results in your blood sugar levels increasing. These rising levels send a signal to your pancreas which then releases insulin. Insulin allows the sugar in your blood to enter your cells to be used as energy. Diabetes, now, affects how your body turns what you consume into energy. There are two ways that Diabetes can affect this energy process.

(1) Your body is unable to make enough insulin which results in the blood sugar staying in your bloodstream. This can lead to concerns in organs like heart and kidney
(2) The insulin being made is not being used adequately as body cells are not responding to Insulin.

Types of Diabetes 

Type 1 Diabetes
Cause Symptoms Treatment
Autoimmune reaction in which the body attacks the cells of its own. This stops the body from making the insulin needed. Usually seen in children and adults less than 40 yrs. Symptoms appear more quickly – Increased thirst
– Increase in frequency of urination

– Weight loss despite of normal or increased appetite
– Increased weakness
– Children: increased bedwetting accidents
As the problem is with Insulin secretion, Insulin injections are the mainstay of treatment.
– Short-acting (regular) insulin
– Rapid-acting insulin
– Intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin
– Long-acting insulin
– Diet and lifestyle changes 

Type 2 Diabetes
Cause Symptoms Treatment
The body doesn’t use the insulin it makes properly and is unable to control the sugar levels in the blood. Developed over the course of years. – Increased thirst
– Increase in frequency of urination

– Increased appetite
– Weight Loss
– Blurred vision
– Slow wound healing
– Increased episodes of infections
– Numbness and tingling in hands and legs
– Acanthosis Nigricans: darkened skin areas such as on the neck 
Since the problem is with Insulin action, treatment includes reducing the Insulin resistance by
– Diet and lifestyle changes
– Oral medications like Metformin

Gestational Diabetes

Cause Symptoms Treatment
Seen in pregnant women who don’t have a history of diabetes. Its development in the mom can be dangerous for the child. This type of diabetes is relieved after the child is born, but does keep you at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. – Increased frequency in urination
– Increased thirst
– Increased fatigue
– Repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting
– Blurred vision
– Increased UTI’s and yeast infections
– Weight loss with increased food intake
– Diet and lifestyle changes
– Last resort: insulin shots to reduce blood sugar levels


Is there a cure for Diabetes?

Diabetes can be controlled and managed, but there is no cure for it as of yet. Experts have suggested that losing weight, having an exercise routine and a healthy diet can help control the symptoms of Diabetes.

Read this blog to understand why it’s important to screen for diabetes.

Best exercises for Diabetes

Best exercises for Diabetes

As you can see from the information above, diet and lifestyle changes are key in managing diabetes symptoms. Following are the few exercises you can introduce to your daily routine to keep your body active, BMI healthy and major organs functioning at its optimum.

(1) Walking:
Walking can be a great start because it does not require too much energy. A 30 minute walk a day – slow or fast pace – can work wonders for your body. If daily is too much, 4-5 times a week works just fine.

(2) Swimming:
We know swimming to be an aerobic exercise, and can help strengthen your muscles giving both your upper and lower body adequate exercise. It further doesn’t hurt your joints, and can help you lower your cholesterol levels and also keep your BMI in normal range. 

(3) Cycling – indoor or outdoor
This mildly fast paced activity can help you lose weight, and get your heart rate up as you work up a decent sweat. Furthermore, cycling also helps with diabetic neuropathy which is a complication of uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes. The nerves end up damaged and cause joint pain. Cycling helps minimize the strain placed on joints. 

(4) Lifting weights and Resistance training
This helps your body build muscle mass which can help with weight loss, increasing endurance and strength. It also helps in reducing insulin resistance in type 2 Diabetes and increases motion around joints

(5) Tai chi and Yoga
These help in glucose control, improvement in lipid levels and also with neuropathic symptoms.

How does exercise help with Diabetes?

  • Allows insulin to work better because it increases insulin sensitivity 
  • Increased strength and energy 
  • Helps keep the heart healthy 
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps in maintaining weight and BMI
  • Improves Lipid levels
  • Increases Cardiorespiratory fitness

It can be challenging to control Diabetes, but it’s important to manage it to avoid any complications. A
diabetologist can help you understand your treatment better – whether medication is needed or lifestyle changes are sufficient. You can also do a Diabetes risk assessment with MFine with a sample being picked up at your home. You can share your results by consulting with a diabetologist online before you start any treatment.

Doing the best exercises for diabetes can help, and you can start today – one step at a time. 

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