For World Diabetes Day, Fitness First offers tips on how to manage your sugar levels as well as the best exercises to carry out for people with diabetes
With World Diabetes Day (14th November) taking place tomorrow, there’s no better time to look at how you can manage your sugar levels, especially while working out.
Recent studies have shown that exercise is one of the best ways to help manage type 2 diabetes. Exercise can enable your cells to use insulin better and help keep your blood within a healthy range. However, if you take insulin or other medication for diabetes then a workout can cause your sugar levels to decrease; which is also known as hypoglycemia.
To ensure a safe workout there are a few simple steps you can take to help keep your sugar levels under control. Robert Richards, National Fitness & Wellness Manager at Fitness First explains:
Before working out:
It’s important to regularly check your sugar levels especially prior to working out. It is generally considered OK if your sugar levels are between 100 mg/dl and 250 mg/dl. However, if it is below 100 then you’ll need to snack on some healthy carbohydrates to bring your sugar levels back up. If you’re planning on working out for a longer period, then your reading must be above 100 before you work out.
If your sugar level is above 250, check for ketones in your urine. These are produced when your body burns fat instead of sugar for fuel. If ketones are visible, do not exercise as it may cause increase in blood sugar levels which can lead to critical conditions of the body.
During working out:
Fitness First encourages to follow the ’15-15 rule’. When carrying out a long workout, always check your sugar levels every 15 minutes. If your reading is below 70 mg/dl, stop exercising and eat around 15 to 20 grams of fast-acting carbs. These carbs directly affect your blood sugar levels faster than others. Try snacking on a small piece of fruit or a granola bar. Follow this rule and check your levels every 15 minutes.
This may seem to break up the flow of your workout routine but continuing without the ‘15-15 rule’ could bring your sugar levels to a dangerous low.
After working out:
Once you’ve completed your workout it’s important to check your blood sugar levels a final time. This will be a great indication on how exercise affects your diabetes. If your blood sugar level is below 100mg/dl then grab a snack straight away.
TIP: After a big workout your levels can drop for up to 24 hours so always remember to test regularly.
Exercises to carry out if you have type 2 Diabetes;
Many people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of obesity and dangerous falls, so it is important to introduce exercise into your daily routine as it can help with weight loss and improve your balance.
Here are some simple, yet effective exercises that can be practiced by all ages and fitness levels:
Studies have revealed beneficial effects when people with diabetes participate in aerobic activities at least three times a week. Quite often, doctors will recommend walking at brisk pace to raise the heart rate to people with type 2 diabetes. It’s one of the easier exercises and all you need is a good pair running shoes and somewhere to stroll.
Tai Chi and yoga:
Numerous studies have shown several benefits of Tai Chi and yoga for individuals with diabetes. Both practices are great diabetic stress reducers. Remember, when stress levels increase, so do your blood sugar levels! Tai Chi and yoga can also help lower body fat, fight insulin resistance and improve your nerve function which is essential for people with type 2 diabetes.
Cycling is a fantastic choice of exercise. It can make your heart stronger and seriously enhance the function of your lungs. Using a stationary bike is also ideal for diabetics as they can be used indoors, and you don’t need to worry about falling off. Cycling also improves blood flow and burns calories to ensure healthy weight.
Strengthening activities such as weightlifting builds muscle mass which in turn helps burn up calories- which is important for those with type 2 diabetes. If you lose muscle mass, then you will have a harder time maintaining your blood sugar.
Introduce resistance exercise or weight training at least two to three times a week and always schedule a rest day between weight workouts