Physical activity is an important component to control type to diabetes. Exercise has many benefits, and the major one is that it makes it easier to control your blood sugar levels.
When you exercise, your insulin resistance goes down and your cells can use the glucose more effectively.
Exercise can also help people with type 2 diabetes avoid long-term complications like heart problems. Apart from keeping your heart healthy and strong, exercise helps you maintain good cholesterol levels and that helps you avoid arteriosclerosis.
Benefits of exercising
- Lower blood pressure
- Better control of weight
- Increased level of good cholesterol (HDL)
- Leaner, stronger muscles
- Stronger bones
- More energy
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Stress management
Follow these general guidelines for pre-exercise blood sugar levels. The measurements are expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- Lower than 100 (mg/dL). Your blood sugar may be too low to exercise safely. Eat a small snack containing 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, such as fruit juice, fruit, crackers or even glucose tablets before you begin your workout.
- 100 to 250 (mg/dL). You’re good to go. For most people, this is a safe pre-exercise blood sugar range.
- 250 (mg/dL) or higher. This is a caution zone — your blood sugar is too high to exercise safely. Before exercising, test your urine for ketones — materials made when your body breaks down fat for energy. The presence of ketones indicates that your body doesn't have enough insulin to control your blood sugar.
If you exercise while you have a high level of ketones, you are at risk of serious complication ketoacidosis — that needs immediate treatment. Instead of exercising immediately, wait and first take measures to correct the high blood sugar levels and wait to exercise until your ketone test indicates an absence of ketones in your urine.
Things to keep in mind before you begin exercising
- Talk to your doctor
When you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you have to get started on a good, realistic exercise plan, check with your doctor first. As you begin an exercise program, your doctor can refer you to an exercise physiologist or diabetes educator to help you figure out the best exercise program that allows you to get in shape for your fitness level.
- Set realistic goals
Always start slow especially if you haven’t exercised much recently, gradually increase the amount and intensity of the activity.
- Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water and always have something to help you when your blood glucose goes too low (15 g carbohydrate). It is important to check your blood sugar with your glucose meter before and after exercise to make sure you are in a safe range.