Type 2 Diabetes and Exercise
Exercise is one of the best things you can do if you have diabetes. The benefits include:
- Helps your body use insulin, which controls your blood sugar
- Burns extra body fat
- Strengthens muscles and bones
- Lowers blood pressure
- Cuts LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Improves blood circulation
- Makes heart disease and stroke less likely
- Boosts energy and mood
- Tames stress
How Does Exercise Affect Blood Sugar?
When you exercise, your body needs extra energy from blood sugar, also called glucose.
When you do something quickly, like a sprint to catch the bus, your muscles and liver release glucose for fuel.
The big payoff comes when you do moderate exercise for a longer time, like a hike. Your muscles take up much more glucose when you do that. This helps lower your blood sugar levels.
If you're doing intense exercise, your blood sugar levels may rise, temporarily, after you stop.
11 Tips to Get Started
1. Make a list of fun activities. You have lots of options, and you don't have to go to a gym. What sounds good? Think about something you've always wanted to try or something you enjoyed in the past. Sports, dancing, yoga, walking, and swimming are a few ideas. Anything that raises your heart rate counts.
2. Get your doctor's OK. Let them know what you want to do. They can make sure you're ready for it. They'll also check to see if you need to change your meals, insulin, or diabetes medicines. Your doctor can also let you know if the time of day you exercise matters.
3. Check your blood sugar. Ask your doctor if you should check it before exercise. If you plan to work out for more than an hour, check your blood sugar levels regularly during your workout, so you’ll know if you need a snack. Check your blood sugar after every workout, so that you can adjust if needed.
4. Carry carbs. Always keep a small carbohydrate snack, like fruit or a fruit drink, on hand in case your blood sugar gets low.