How to stay fit when you have diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the US, affecting about 26 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition, characterized by high blood sugar levels, can impact someone’s health in many ways, from reduced energy to complications with eye, kidney, nerve and heart health.
And while eating healthy and working with your doctor to figure out what medications you should take is a given, it’s also important to keep your body fit through exercise. The American Diabetes Association recommends exercise as a way to help counter the effects of diabetes. Aerobic exercises like walking and swimming helps your body better process insulin, which in turn improves circulation and lowers blood glucose levels (high levels can lead to weight gain and risk for further complications). Low-impact strength training also helps your body better process insulin and reduces the risk for complications like osteoporosis and broken bones by helping you maintain muscle mass.
While each individual’s exercise plan will vary, and you should always consult your doctor with any concerns, below are a few general guidelines for how to exercise if you have diabetes:
- Complete at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five days per week. This doesn’t have to be consecutive; if you’re starting a new exercise plan, it can be split up into more manageable 10-minute segments.
- Incorporate strength-training exercises, like bodyweight moves like lunges and push-ups, at least two times per week. As an alternative, everyday activities that require more exertion, like gardening, can help keep your muscles strong.
- While strenuous exercise can be difficult for those with foot or eye health complications from diabetes, low-impact options, like biking and resistance band exercises, can keep your muscles moving without limitation.
- Make exercise a habit, along with taking medication and checking your blood sugar. Doing these together will help you stick to a healthy daily routine and ensure you don’t miss a beat.
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Photo credit: U.S. Army