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What You Need to Know About Exercise and Type 1 Diabetes

March 24, 2016

The importance of an exercise regimen for patients with Type 2 diabetes is well documented. With the high correlation between obesity and Type 2 diabetes, exercising is often recommended in a treatment plan as part of a lifestyle change intended to help the patient maintain a healthy weight.

But exercise and Type 1 diabetes aren’t nearly as synonymous. Does it hold the same importance as it does for someone with Type 2 diabetes?

To answer this question (and more), here are five things you need to know about exercise and Type 1 diabetes.

1. Exercise helps you control your blood sugar level

Since controlling your blood sugar is a crucial component of maintaining your health after a diabetes diagnosis, there is a huge benefit to establishing a regular exercise routine. Exercise increases your body’s insulin sensitivity, which means you may not need as much insulin to process carbohydrates after you work out.

However, keep in mind that different people experience different blood sugar reactions during and after exercise, so make sure you monitor carefully until you figure out what works best for you. Many people with diabetes find that having a snack before or immediately after exercising helps maintain consistent levels.

2. Exercise can minimize long-term complications

People with diabetes are more susceptible to heart disease, and exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Exercise can also help lower or maintain healthy cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk for blocked arteries that can lead to a heart attack.

3. Exercise is a great stress reliever

Managing Type 1 diabetes can be tough. If the stress of managing your illness is getting to you, exercise can be a great way to relieve those anxieties in a healthy and proactive way. You may even find that regularly exercising gives you more energy and helps you feel more prepared to tackle the demands of your day.

4. Talk to your doctor about exercising with Type 1 diabetes

Despite these benefits, entering into a new exercise regimen is still something you should discuss with your doctor first. Your physician can help you figure out what types of exercise might be best for your current fitness level and health.

5. The best exercise routine is a combination

To fully reap the benefits of exercising with Type 1 diabetes, find a routine that combines aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility. Start small and build your way up to a consistent, manageable routine.

Simply put, exercise for someone with Type 1 diabetes is just as important as it is for someone with Type 2 diabetes. Fitting in exercise is an essential part of any healthy lifestyle, but it can have particularly significant benefits for someone who is managing a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Diabetes in America