Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of Ontarians. We believe education and prevention are key parts of this. Check out our latest Health Hint on exercise & diabetes!
Diabetes and Exercise
It is very important to exercise if you have type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that people with type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to muscle atrophy, especially later in life. When muscles atrophy they waste away and become less effective at helping you move. This decreased mobility can have negative impacts on your quality of life. Your daily activities become harder to accomplish and take a longer time to complete.
Regular exercise can help prevent muscle atrophy and keep you enjoying your life! If you don’t have type 2 diabetes, building your muscles may also decrease your chance of developing this illness.
When Should You Exercise?
Research is showing that exercising about 30 minutes after eating can help manage glucose levels. Reducing post-meal glucose levels is associated with better glycemic control and lowered cardiovascular disease risks. Afternoon exercise is also better than morning exercise for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. You should check your blood sugar before exercising to make sure its not too high, which might require adjusting with insulin. Exercising with low blood sugar can also lead to experiencing hypoglycemia, so be sure to check if exercising post meal is something you can do safely. If you exercise after dinner, it may be a good idea to check your blood sugar before bed to make sure it hasn’t dropped too low! Regular exercise helps your body use insulin more efficiently, which can lower your blood sugar levels post workout.
What Kinds of Exercise Should You Try?
One of the easiest ways to get more exercise is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Parking a couple blocks away from you destination and walking, shovelling snow, gardening, and taking the stairs are small easy ways you can work your muscles. Sometimes it can be hard to get started so Diabetes Canada has this guide to help you out. They also have resources for exercising safely and planning your exercise.
If you are starting up, start with lighter workouts to see how your blood sugar responds. You may want to consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Regular exercise also has the added benefit of lowering your blood pressure and decreasing cardiovascular risks. If you have complications from diabetes, look at this guide and this guide for exercises that may be more suitable for you.
You can also try a mix of resistance and aerobic exercise. Resistance exercises build your muscle strength by lifting weights, using resistance bands, or using weight machines. To get started, take a look at this guide. Aim for short resistance workouts 2-3 days a week.
Aerobic exercises elevate your breathing and heart rate with continuous motion – some examples are walking, bicycling, or jogging. If you experience joint pain, you may want to try low impact exercises. These exercises are easier on your knees and back. Swimming, rowing, bicycling, walking, dancing, and rowing are some examples. Aim for 150 minutes of cardio exercises a week.
If exercise feels mundane, consider taking a walk through one of Canada’s many parks. Parks Canada has many hiking trails and historic sites you can visit. Bird watching is another activity that incorporates walking through nature. You may need try different exercises before you find the one you like. Don’t give up! Exercise is hard and sticking to it is a real challenge. Consider exercising with friends or family to keep at it.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Written by Jennifer Nemcik
NOTE: This article is intended to provide general health tips based on available research. You should consult with a health care professional for specific medical and dietary instructions that are right for you.