Plan exercise for people with diabetes (Part 1)

Plan exercise for people with diabetes (Part 1)

Physical activity is one of the top recommendations for people at risk of diabetes or who already have diabetes, along with healthy eating habits, weight loss and, when appropriate, medications. Since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, it's a good time to remind participants that exercise can help them manage their health.


Type 2 diabetes represents 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases, and being 45 years and older, overweight and sedentary are risk factors. Blood glucose is the main sugar in the body, and it is used as the main source of energy. Diabetes is a condition where the body does not properly utilize insulin, the hormone that converts sugar and starches into energy.This results in blood glucose levels that are too high, which can harm the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes (CDC, NDEP).


For people with type 2 diabetes, exercise helps control blood glucose levels by improving the body's use of insulin.They benefit from a planned, progressive exercise program that is appropriate to their functional levels, along with daily activity, such as walking more.


After getting clearance and exercise recommendations from a physician, you can include most types of physical activity in a program. However, avoid activities and intensity levels that may increase pressure on the blood vessels in the eyes, such as heavy weight lifting. For a person who experiences numbness in the feet because of nerve damage, exercises such as swimming may be more appropriate.


Following exercise, advise participants to check their feet for blisters, cuts or redness, since numbness may prevent them from feeling the abrasion. Foot problems can lead to more serious conditions.


Exercisers do need to time exercise according to their meals and blood glucose levels. If blood glucose is too high or too low, they should wait. Improved utilization of insulin may result in lowering blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Remind participants to check their blood levels before and after exercise.Their physician will advise them of the blood glucose levels that are appropriate.


There are resources available so that you can raise awareness of diabetes, as well as the benefits of lifestyle in preventing or managing the condition. Check the Resources box for organizations that provide free posters, logos, articles and press releases. Invite a diabetes educator to speak to your group. Increase your own knowledge of diabetes and the impact of a healthy lifestyle by attending local college courses, studying distance-learning courses and visiting association web sites.


The prevalence of diabetes is rising worldwide. Physical activity and healthy eating can not only prevent this serious illness, but also help people manage the condition.You can inform people about lifestyle and diabetes any time of the year.






This article is provided courtesy of the International Council on Active Aging