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Importance of Physical Activity in Managing Blood Sugar

Physical activity plays a very important role in maintaining overall health and well-being. It is proven that regular exercise can have a positive impact on every aspect of our health, including blood sugar management.

In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of incorporating physical activity in managing blood sugar and share tips to do it right. We will also talk about the special considerations that individuals with diabetes should keep in mind when incorporating physical activity into their routines.

Benefits of Physical Activity for Blood Sugar Management

Moving your body can greatly help in keeping your blood sugar at the right level. But how? Let’s explore how staying active can make a positive impact on blood sugar management:

Boosts Insulin Effectiveness

Working out helps your body use insulin better. Insulin is like a key that lets sugar into your cells for energy.

When you’re more responsive to insulin, you need less of it to manage your blood sugar. This is especially helpful for people with type 2 diabetes, who often struggle with insulin resistance.

Muscles Use Sugar During Exercise

When you exercise, your muscles use up sugar fast. They pull sugar from your blood for energy, which lowers your blood sugar. This not only uses up excess sugar but also helps your body manage it better.

Weight Management

Being active helps you maintain a healthy weight because it burns calories. Even a small amount of weight loss can improve how you regulate blood sugar and respond to insulin.

Since fat can interfere with insulin’s work, reducing body fat through exercise can enhance blood sugar control.

Other Benefits for Diabetes Management

Regular physical activity also offers other health perks for those with diabetes:

Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Diabetes increases the risk of heart problems. Luckily, exercise can be a strong defense. It keeps your heart strong, improves blood flow, and helps manage cholesterol and blood pressure.

Lower Blood Pressure

Exercise can naturally bring down high blood pressure. It makes your arteries wider and more relaxed, which lowers pressure. This is important for people with diabetes, as they often have high blood pressure.

Healthier Cholesterol Levels

Staying active helps keep your cholesterol in check. It lowers ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol that can clog arteries and raises ‘good’ HDL cholesterol that cleans up the ‘bad’ cholesterol.

More Energy and Better Overall Health

Exercise is a great energy booster. It makes your muscles and oxygen use more efficient, giving you more energy throughout the day.

Beyond physical health, it can lift your mood and help combat anxiety and depression, which are common in people with diabetes.

Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity into Daily Routine

Exercise is more than just a workout; it’s a powerful tool for managing diabetes. It helps you stay at a healthy weight and keeps your blood sugar levels in check. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new friends, bond with family, and unwind. You’ll feel stronger, sleep better, and boost your bone health.

Australia’s National Physical Activity Guidelines suggest:

  • See movement as an opportunity, not a chore.
  • Be as active as possible every day.
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days, if not all.
  • Include strength training at least twice a week.
  • For extra health benefits, mix in some vigorous exercise and reduce long sitting periods.

Here are some beginner tips to get used to having more activity in your daily routine: 

Start Small

Any activity is better than none. If you’re new to exercise, start with short bouts of your favorite activity. Even 10 minutes can be beneficial. As you get fitter, aim for 30 to 60 minutes.

Move More

Adults should be active most days. Regular exercise helps your body use glucose better. But this effect lasts only 24 to 72 hours, so keep at it!

Understand Intensity

The amount of exercise you need depends on its intensity.

  • Moderate exercise means you’re breathing faster but can still talk. Aim for 150–300 minutes per week.
  • Vigorous exercise is tougher, leaving you breathless but able to speak a sentence. Try for 75–150 minutes weekly.
  • Mix moderate and vigorous activities to hit your exercise goals and keep things interesting.

Remember, the right intensity is key to health benefits without injury.

Add Strength Training

You should strength train at least two days a week. Use your body weight, household items, or resistance bands for activities like lifting, squatting, and leg lifts.

Sit Less

You must break up long-sitting spells. Stand at work if possible, walk with friends, and choose standing over sitting on public transport. You can boost your overall activity by gardening, cleaning, taking stairs, and moving during TV breaks. Also, limit screen time and TV watching.

Some Special Considerations

When engaging in physical activity, it’s important for individuals with diabetes to take some special precautions. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

Foot Care: Always wear soft cotton socks and snug sports shoes to shield your feet.

Planning Exercise: Before you start any exercise, discuss with your doctor about the best exercises for you. Discuss your favorite activities, how you can prepare, as well as what to avoid.

Hydration: Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, a serious condition that happens when you lose too much water during exercise.

Blood Sugar Monitoring: For those on insulin, it’s crucial to check the blood sugar prior to any heavy exercise. If it’s less than 100 mg/dL, consider having a small amount of snack like half a cup of fruit juice, two tablespoons of raisins, or regular soda. This helps stop your blood glucose from falling too low, which can be risky.

If it’s more than 240 mg/dL, your sugar level might be very high for safe exercise. Do a urine test for ketones and waste products. High ketone levels mean not enough insulin is being made, and exercising could lead to ketoacidosis, a severe diabetic emergency that requires immediate medical care.

Post-Exercise Care: After working out, check your blood sugar again to see the impact of the exercise.

Foot Examination: Inspect your feet for any sores, redness, cuts, blisters, or injuries post-exercise. If you notice an injury that doesn’t improve within two days, schedule a visit with your doctor.

Conclusion

Staying active is key to controlling blood sugar. Exercise helps your health in many ways and keeps blood sugar levels in check. To get these benefits, add exercise to your day and follow tips to do it right. This helps you manage your blood sugar better. If you have diabetes, think about how to fit exercise into your life so it helps your health the most.

Besides exercise, constant monitor your blood sugar level is essential for keeping your diabetes in check. However, using traditional blood sugar monitoring devices can be a hassle. That’s why we offer painless CGM blood sugar monitoring to make the whole ordeal much more convenient. Sign up today to learn more. 

References:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html
  • https://www.mchodessa.com/news/2021/february/the-benefits-of-exercise-on-diabetes/
  • https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/exercise/
  • https://diabetes.org/health-wellness/fitness/blood-glucose-and-exercise#:~:text=Physical%20activity%20can%20lower%20your,blood%20glucose%20responds%20to%20exercise.

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