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Exercise and Diabetes


Download the Step by Step guide to getting fit here

Getting started

Being active is good for all of us but it is especially important if you have diabetes. Exercising increases the amount of glucose used by the muscles for energy, so it may sometimes lower blood glucose levels.

Looking after yourself when you have diabetes means increasing your physical activity as well as managing your diet and taking your medication. They are all equally important in controlling your blood sugar levels.

The Health Development Agency recommends moderate activity such as 30 minutes brisk walking 5 times a week. This might be something you could achieve now or you may be able to build up to it over a period of time.

Why should I exercise?

Being active is not only good for your body but it is also good for your mind and reduces stress.

  • It keeps the brain active It keeps the joints mobile
  • It strengthens the heart It regulates blood sugar levels
  • It improves insulin sensitivity
  • It improves circulation
  • It lowers blood pressure It releases endorphins (happy hormones) - making you feel good
  • It expands lung capacity
  • It strengthens muscles and bones
  • It tones the stomach
  • It strengthens the back
  • It reduces fat around organs

Increasing Physical Activity

Adopt active habits

  • Choose the stairs - walk up escalators
  • Walk or cycle for short journeys
  • Turn off the TV and get out and about
  • Do housework to music, it's fun and the chores seem easier
  • Find someone to exercise with you - it might be your dog or why not borrow one?

What exercise can I do?

Adopt active habits

  • Choose the stairs - walk up escalators
  • Walk or cycle for short journeys
  • Turn off the TV and get out and about
  • Do housework to music, it’s fun and the chores seem easier
  • Find someone to exercise with you - it might be your dog or why not borrow one?

If you are less mobile, there are still benefits from increasing your activity. Armchair exercises, gentle walking, stretching programmes, will all help to keep you as mobile and as fit as possible.

If you need to lose weight a realistic target is to lose 10% of your current weight, being more active will help you to achieve this target.

You may decide to try something a bit different simply because it is more exciting or challenging or to widen your social circle.

Contact your local leisure centre or your Diabetes Nurse about any initiatives in your area.

Leisure centre/ Health club/ Hired Hall

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Line Dancing
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Exercise Biking
  • Circuit Training

Outdoor Activities

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Golf
  • Bowling
  • Cycling
  • Tennis

Home Activities

  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Walking to the shops
  • Stair Climbing
  • Armchair Exercises
  • Exercise Biking
  • Exercise Videos
  • Decorating

Group Activities

  • Ten pin Bowling
  • Rambling
  • Singing in a choir
  • Joining a class

The Talk Test - how to tell how you are doing

To find out, while doing your activity, if you are gaining fitness you could try the talk test

  • If you can sing during exercise - you could perhaps work a bit harder
  • If you can talk during exercise - that’s about right!
  • If you are gasping during exercise - slow down, get your breath

Always warm up before exercise and stretch out afterwards.
Always carry glucose tablets with you and make sure you have identification to say you have diabetes.

Some people may already have some problems with their health, such as breathlessness on exertion, arthritis, leg pain if walking distances.

Activity is healthy, fun, sociable, normal and doesn’t have to be expensive.

Start slowly and increase gradually.

Try new activities and get fit for life!

If you are not used to exercising and have additional medical problems please discuss with your GP first for some initial advice.

Activity may affect blood glucose levels both during and after exercise. Regular blood glucose checking will help you to understand how activity affects your blood glucose levels. Be aware of hypos. If you take medication for your diabetes (excluding metformin and especially if you are on Insulin Therapy you need to be aware of hypoglycaemia treatment and prevention. It is also important to look after your feet too. Refer to footcare leaflet here.

For further exercise advice refer to:
www.runsweet.com
www.who.int
www.excarbs.com

Step by step guide to getting fit

All the information here is contained in the leaflet ' Physical activity and diabetes ' which you can download at the top of the page.


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