Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or if you are at risk for diabetes, having exercise as a part of your lifestyle will certainly improve your condition and reduce complications.
How does physical activity help with diabetes?
Be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise regime and find out what your safe target heart rate will be. Set goals for yourself either based on time or on distance. If you find it overwhelming since you aren’t used to exercising, set small achievable goals that can be accomplished and increase every 2 weeks. This will ensure you remain committed and consistent with your physical activity.
Exercise may lower your blood sugar levels and consequently you may need your diabetes medication adjusted. A Registered Dietitian can help with changes to your meal plan so you have the energy your body needs.
You need to fuel up wisely before, during and after exercise.
Before: a small snack with whole grain carbohydrate and protein will provide long lasting energy for your activity e.g. 1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter.
During: for exercise lasting longer than one hour, you may need more carbohydrate to prevent blood sugar from going too low e.g. half a banana or a handful of raisins.
After: if you exercise for more than one hour you will need to refuel with a post workout snack e.g. 150g low fat yoghurt and a small apple.
Remember to stay hydrated before, during and after exercise by drinking water. Judge by the colour of your urine how much water you will need by making sure it is clear.
Whether you are starting exercise for the first time or training for an endurance event, increase your exercise slowly. Listen to your body and check your blood sugars, remembering to stay hydrated and snack before, during and after if need be.
As your fitness improves, you will reap even greater health benefits.