November is American Diabetes Month. Learn how exercise can improve your health if you have diabetes.
As a diabetic, you know the challenge of keeping your blood sugar levels just right, cooking healthy and visiting your doctor for check-ups. How are you supposed to fit exercise into your busy schedule? Once exercising becomes a daily habit, it’s a great way to reduce the negative effects of diabetes.
When you eat, the sugar (glucose) in your blood stream increases. In a non-diabetic, the pancreas reacts by producing insulin which helps the body absorb excess glucose and blood sugar levels return to normal. A diabetic’s body, however, either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot process it properly. Blood sugar levels remain too high, which is a condition known as hyperglycemia. Excess glucose in the blood stream hurts blood cells and blood vessels, and could potentially lead to irreversible damage in the long run. Vision, kidney and foot problems are the most well-known ailments that result.
The wonders of exercise
Exercise, especially when performed continuously at a moderate pace, causes the body to use glucose at a high rate and regulate blood sugar levels very efficiently. For a diabetic, exercise is like nature’s medicine. In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, exercise can help the body:
- use insulin more effectively
- lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol
- improve blood circulation
- lose weight
- lower blood pressure
- increase energy, reduce stress and sleep better
A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training yields the best results. Very intense exercise, however, can raise blood sugar levels dramatically as soon as the workout stops, so it is essential to review your workout program with a physician before beginning. Changes in your medication or meal plan may be necessary. For more information about the benefits of exercise for diabetics, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website.
Get your body moving! Central Florida Regional Hospital is a recognized expert in the field of diabetes. Our Diabetes Education Program provides information and support. Have questions or concerns? Call (407) 321-4500, ext. 5249 or our free Consult-A-Nurse® service 24 hours a day at 1-800-445-3392.