Diabetes and Exercise

Physical activity plays an important role in diabetes management. Regular exercise along with dietary management and medications improves quality of life of diabetic patient and delays complications related to high blood sugar.

What is physical activity?

Physical activity is any activity that involves major muscle groups, including routine daily activities such as shopping or climbing stairs. Exercise includes any activity done with a goal of improving or maintaining physical fitness. Physical fitness can be described as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigour and alertness, without excessive fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits and meet unforeseen emergencies.

What are the  benefits of regular exercise to diabetic patient?

  1. Improves blood sugar control
  2. Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol
  3. Weight reduction
  4. Improves heart function and blood circulation
  5. Reduces stress and elevate mood
  6. Improves overall quality of life

What types of exercise are suitable for diabetic patients?

There are three main types of exercise: (i) Aerobic exercise, (ii) Resistance training and (iii) Stretching exercise.

  1. Aerobic exercise — Aerobic exercise involves exertion such as walking, running, or swimming, which increases the flow of blood through the heart. Aerobic means “with oxygen” and refers to working at a level where the large muscles get adequate oxygen from the blood to sustain prolonged activity.
  2. Resistance training — Resistance training is exercise designed to increase muscle strength and includes lifting weights. This kind of exercise is sometimes called anaerobic, meaning “without oxygen.” In contrast to aerobic exercise, the muscles do not get enough oxygen to sustain anaerobic exercise for prolonged periods of time. As an example, anaerobic exercise involve lifting a heavy weight a number of times.
  3. Stretching exercise — Stretching exercises are movements designed to improve flexibility and prevent injury. Improving flexibility allows joints to move over a wider range of motion. Good range of motion in all joints helps to maintain musculoskeletal function, balance, and agility.

The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week—that’s 30 minutes five days a week. You can get that through activities such as walking, cycling or swimming.

Tips for safe exercising in diabetic patient:

  1. Deicide time and duration of exercise
  2. Don’t miss meal/snack or medicines
  3. Avoid dehydration: drink plenty of water
  4. Prepare for any episode of low blood sugar during exercise
  5. Chose proper shoe wear
  6.  Avoid exercise during illness
  7. Don’t do over exertion
  8. Ask your doctor for optimal exercise regimen for you before starting or changing exercise pattern

Dr. Vivek Patel

MBBS, MD, DM(Endocrinology)