Virtually all individuals
who have diabetes can benefit from regular exercise. In both Type 1 and Type 2
diabetes, exercise can increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood glucose, and
have positive psychological effects on an individual. With regular
exercise, overall well-being improves, cardiovascular risk factors are reduced,
and hyperglycemia is better controlled.
Before beginning an exercise program, it is important
for an individual with diabetes to consult with his or her doctor. The
doctor can assess the state of the patient's overall health and decide whether
there are existing diabetes-related situations or complications like heart
The best type of exercise is aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is usually
continuous and uses large amounts of energy. Examples include: walking,
running, bicycling, and swimming. These forms of exercise are more likely
to help control blood glucose than exercise activities that only require short
bursts of energy, like team sports.
Walking is excellent exercise and is easy to do. It is best to start out
slowly with short distances and then gradually increase speed and
distance. Any exercise should be done regularly, at least 3-4 times
per week. A regular schedule is important because it makes it easier to
plan for any changes in diabetic therapy due to exercise.
For individuals with Type 1 diabetes, exercise is usually balanced with a meal
plan and insulin to control the diabetes. Changes may be necessary to insulin
and/or food intake before and after exercise to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood
Exercise helps those with Type 2 diabetes by increasing the sensitivity of cells
to insulin. The increase in sensitivity increases insulin effectiveness
and improves blood glucose levels.
diabetes and its related complications can make some
types of exercise inadvisable or potentially dangerous. Therefore,
careful attention must be paid to blood glucose monitoring, diet, insulin, and
medication in order to exercise safely. It is recommended by the ADA that
patients monitor their blood glucose before and after exercise and for those with
Type 1 diabetes, every 20 to 30 minutes.