Spring is here! And with spring comes more sunshine, warmer days, and often a desire to take care of your health. But have you ever wondered: what is the BEST treatment for you, what has the most beneficial effect of your health?
Research has found a treatment that can: • Reduce pain due to arthritis • Reduce progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s in older patients • Reduce risk of developing diabetes • Reduce risk of hip fracture • Reduce anxiety • Offer relief from depression • Reduce overall risk of death • It is the #1 treatment of fatigue • It has shown over and over again to improve quality of life
Can you guess what that treatment is?
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to manage and live well with your diabetes since it improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin and helps manage your blood glucose (sugar) levels. In fact, active muscles use up glucose as a source of energy, preventing glucose from building up in your blood.
What is physical activity?
Physical activity is any form of movement that causes your body to burn calories. For example: walking, gardening, cleaning and many other activities you may already do.
Both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for people living with diabetes. Aerobic exercise consists of continuous exercise such as walking, bicycling or jogging that elevates breathing and heart rate. Whereas resistance exercise involves brief repetitive exercises with weights, weight machines, resistance bands or one’s own body weight to build muscle strength. If you decide to begin resistance exercise, you should first get some instruction from a qualified exercise specialist or exercise resource and start slowly. Ask your diabetes educator for more information!
How much is enough?
Your goal should be to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week (e.g. 30 minutes, five days a week). Start slowly and safely, with as little as five to 10 minutes of exercise per day, gradually building up to your goal.
If you are able and when you are ready, try adding resistance exercises like lifting weights three times a week.
Remember: Safety 1st!
If you have been inactive for some time, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program that is more strenuous than brisk walking.
• Make sure you wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes.
• Wear your MedicAlert® bracelet or necklace.
• Listen to your body. Speak to your doctor if you are very short of breath or have chest pain.
People using insulin or medications that could lower blood sugars should monitor their levels before, during and many hours after exercise to evaluate exercise affected your blood glucose control. Carry some form of fast-acting carbohydrate with you in case you need to treat low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), for example, glucose tablets or a juice.
Most importantly, have fun!