Regular Exercise is (Diabetes) Medicine
Most of us have heard that regular exercise can prevent many chronic diseases. Exercise is effective at stabilizing blood glucose, and this in turn may help control or reduce risk of diabetes. A common misconception is that exercise only has this effect when it causes you to lose weight. In reality, exercise also offers a unique method of controlling blood glucose levels that occurs regardless of weight.
When we exercise, the body can take glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream without the use of insulin, the hormone that our body relies on to regulate blood sugar levels. Our muscles need glucose to power their movement, so they take this glucose from the blood. This helps to lower our blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association recommends a mix of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training for blood sugar control. Cardiovascular exercises, like brisk walking, biking, and Zumba, help the body take up blood sugar faster. Strength training helps the body to use insulin better. Regular exercise can also help you maintain a healthy body weight.
Finding time in the day to exercise with a busy schedule can be difficult. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using the bathroom on a different floor of your workspace, and taking small five-minute breaks throughout your workday to fit in strength training. Examples of strength-building exercises you could do without equipment are planks, wall push-ups, and squats.
If you are taking insulin, it is important to monitor your blood glucose levels during and after exercise. You may need to adjust your insulin dose or carbohydrate intake to prevent your blood sugar from dropping too low; your healthcare provider can help you figure out the best plan for you. The American Diabetes Association 15-15 rule can also be used if your blood sugar goes low.