Exercise benefits many aspects of physical and emotional health, as you might have noticed in the past. It also helps us feel more comfortable with our own body shape.

However, can people with diabetes exercise? Research shows that regular activity helps improve diabetes management (blood sugar levels) and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Why is it important to maintain a healthy weight if you have diabetes? Diabetes is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), so is being overweight or obese, as well as having a waist circumference larger than 94cm (37 inches) for men and 80cm (31.5 inches) for women.

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Being overweight and having diabetes greatly increases the risk of having high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, stroke and heart failure. Therefore, people with diabetes should be even more careful with their weight and waist circumference, as they already have a high CVD risk.

You may have some doubts about exercising with diabetes, such as… What type of activity is best for people with diabetes? Is it safe to exercise if you have diabetes?

The best exercise will be of moderate intensity. This requires a moderate amount of effort and a noticeably accelerated heart rate. It is different for each person and some examples include: brisk walking, dancing, gardening, slow jogging, active involvement in games and sports with children, walking pets, general building tasks and slow speed cycling.

How much exercise is beneficial? To create a positive effect on weight and general health, evidence suggests we all need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, or a total minimum of 3 and a half hours per week.

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How to make your exercise safe when having diabetes:

– Choose an activity you enjoy. Anything that raises your heart rate and keeps it up while you’re working out will improve your aerobic fitness. This helps you better manage your blood sugar levels.

– If you are not active you need to build up your fitness level. Start with 10 minutes of exercise at a time, and gradually work up to 30 minutes a day.

– It would be beneficial to talk to your doctor. Let them know what you want to do. They can make sure that you are ready for it. They will also check to see if you need to change your meals, insulin or diabetes medication.

– Ask your doctor if you should check your blood sugar before exercise. Many people do not need to, but it depends on your diabetes management and medication. If you are going to work out for more than an hour, check your blood sugar levels regularly during your workout, so you will know if you need a snack. Check your levels after exercise too, so that you can adjust if needed.

– Carry carbs (carbohydrates) with you, like fruit or a fruit drink, in case your blood sugar gets low.

– Strength train at least twice a week, as it can improve your blood sugar and will help tone your muscle mass.

– Make exercise a habit, the same way you take your medicines.

– Be good to your feet: wear good shoes and check your feet carefully.

– Drink water before, during and after exercise to stay hydrated.

– Stop if you have any unexpected pain or if you feel unwell.

– If possible, let others know that you are going exercising, or bring them along with you. Explain to them what to do if your blood sugar gets too low. Bringing a buddy will make the experience more fun too!

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information.

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