Exercise is beneficial for all, especially people with diabetes. In diabetic subjects regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity which helps in reducing blood glucose. Exercise also reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise relives stress, strengthens one’s heart, muscles and bones. In addition, it improves blood circulation and keeps joint flexible.
Patients with diabetes should take the doctor’s advice before beginning an exercise program. It is recommended that older patients with diabetes who have complications should avoid strenuous exercise, to avoid sudden deterioration of their complications.
Routine exercises belong to three categories namely: 1) Aerobic exercise, 2) Flexibility Exercise and 3) Strength exercise.
For most people, it is best to aim for a total of about 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week.
Strength training exercises done several times a week helps to build strong bones and muscles. Flexibility exercises also called stretching helps to keep the joints flexible and reduce the chance of injury during other activities.
In addition to formal exercise, one should try to increase the activities throughout the day. Walk wherever possible, avoid lift and take the stairs. Walking in public places such as railway station or bus stand, airport, etc must be taken as opportunities rather than burden. This will reduce stress and gives one the benefit of exercise.
The main benefits of exercise are
- Improvement in blood glucose control.
- Improvement in insulin sensitivity and lowered insulin requirements often leading to a reduced dosage of insulin and/or oral hypoglycemic agents especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Reduction in blood pressure.
- Reduction in Cholesterol levels.
- Reduction in risk of osteoporosis
- Reduction in heart related problems.
- Favourable changes in body composition (decreased body fat and weight, increase in muscle mass)
- Maintenance and improvement in body weight.
- Improvement in psychological well being.