Ask the Diabetes Educator: Exercise and Diabetes

This post is the first installment in a new blog series about diabetes. Do you have a question about diabetes for our expert? Ask in the comments section below and we will answer it.

Gwen Girdler, RN, BSN, CDE
Outpatient Diabetes Educator
Lexington Medical Center

Exercise plays a huge role in diabetes management. Aerobic exercise and/or resistance training can be as effective at lowering A1C as pharmacotherapy. Aerobic exercise 4-7 times/week for at least 30 minutes has a long list of benefits. A few examples of aerobic exercise include brisk walking, swimming, cycling and dancing.

©1998  EyeWire, Inc.

©1998 EyeWire, Inc.

Safety is important when beginning an exercise regimen. If you’re taking insulin or medications that can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), test your blood sugar 30 minutes before exercising and approximately every 30 minutes during exercise. That will help you determine if your blood sugar level is stable, rising or falling, and if it’s safe to keep exercising.

Blood sugar lower than 100 mg/dL may be too low to exercise safely. In that case, eat a small, carbohydrate-containing snack, such as peanut butter and crackers before you begin your workout. If you’re new to exercise, ease into it; start with 10 minutes of exercise at a time, gradually work up to 30 minutes a day, with two days of strength training.

Exercise Facts

1) Lowers your blood sugar
2) Improves insulin sensitivity, which means your body’s insulin works better
3) Lowers your risk for heart disease
4) Improves circulation
5) Helps to build and tone muscles and reduces body fat
6) Reduces stress and enhances quality of life

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