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Healthy Exercise for Diabetes Patients

September 11, 2014

Aerobic_SpinningMaintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, but exercise can be especially key for diabetes patients. In addition to keeping your body in shape and helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercising consistently can even lower blood glucose and allow insulin to work more efficiently. While you should check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, incorporating more activity into your daily routine is good for your mental and physical health.  

What Type of Exercises Should Diabetes Patients Do?  

There are numerous ways to move your body, so don’t be afraid to try something new and find an activity you enjoy. As you’re considering your options, aim for a program that includes both aerobic and strength training exercises.  

Aerobic exercise is anything that gets your heart rate up and your body moving at a faster-than-average pace. In addition to strengthening your heart and improving your circulation, aerobic exercise also lowers your blood glucose and reduces your risk of heart disease while helping your body use insulin better.

Strength training builds stronger muscles and bones, which helps your body burn more calories throughout the day. Like aerobic exercise, strength training also increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin and works to lower blood glucose.  

How Can I Get Started?  

The first step to beginning any new exercise program is to talk to your doctor to make sure you choose movement that is safe and healthy for your body. Once you’ve done that, here are a few more tips to get started.  

Choose Something That Fits Your Schedule

You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. If you want to join a gym but the closest facility to your home is a 45-minute drive, be realistic about your commitment. If you don’t see yourself making that drive several times a week, you might want to look into alternatives that fit more easily into your lifestyle. Check out videos you can do at home, consider purchasing a treadmill or map out walking or running routes in your neighborhood.  

Build Up Slowly

While enthusiasm is great, you don’t want to burn your body out before your new exercises can become part of a consistent routine. If you haven’t been working out over the past several months or years, it’s probably not the best idea to sign up for a marathon next weekend. Instead, build up your endurance over time and give yourself something to work towards.  

Keep It Simple

Just because you’re not ready to go for a three-mile run doesn’t mean you can’t still add movement into your daily routine. Try simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away or adding an evening walk at the end of your day.

Make sure you ease into your activities and do some stretching before you really get your blood pumping. This will help you prevent injury so you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine. For tips on the best stretches to prevent injury, check out this video by Ohio Medical Group sports medicine physician Dr. Matthew Schaeffer.   

And since the third time’s the charm, we’ll say it again: make sure you consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Some diabetes complications can limit the types and intensity of exercise you can safely do.  

To learn more about dealing with diabetes, download our free guide here.

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