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Diabetes and Exercise

  By : , New Delhi, India       17.9.2010         Phone:8287833547, 9738626275          Mail Now
  Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, Karolbagh

A good friend of mine was stunned to hear that he ‘was suffering from diabetes. All of 38 - years- old, my friend, an employee of a corporate organization with no history of diabetes in the family, came to me for advice after his physician told him that the disease could be controlled entirely by dieting and exercising.

That regular exercise is good for you is irrefutable. It improves your stamina, lung capacity, heart function, blood circulation, mental well being and also helps control your weight. Therefore, it goes without saying that exercising significantly decreases one’s risk of being affected by chronic diseases, one of which is diabetes.

If you are affected by diabetes, it means that your blood glucose is too high. Our body uses glucose for energy, but too much of it can hurt us. Diabetes is becoming more common in the modern age, especially in obese, overweight young people who seem to have no time for exercise. The most important treatment options for those who have been pronounced diabetic are dieting, medication and exercising. It also goes without saying that physical activity takes precedence, as it is likely to be most rewarding and also ensures that one feels healthy.

How does exercise benefit diabetics?

Regular exercise is known to be effective in controlling blood glucose levels.

  • Exercise reduces the severity of diabetes

  • It reduces the risk of long-term complications. 

  • Exercise also helps lower stress (which, in turn, can raise glucose levels)

  • Exercise improves circulation to the extremities of the body.

Types of Exercise

I usually recommend moderate physical activity for at least 30 to 40 minutes, at least five days a week. For people who are unaccustomed to physical activity, it is advisable that they start with exercising for about fifteen minutes a day and work their way up, increasing their workload by about ten percent, every five days. Exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, cycling, dancing, tennis, basketball, badminton and other sports, are heavily recommended if one has to strengthen larger muscle groups and work towards aerobic gains. Also strength training exercises like resistance bands and weights are advisable as they help build muscles, along with stretches that improve flexibility and prevent injuries.


It is very important that diabetics who are on anti - diabetic medications take the following precautions:

  • Consult your doctor before starting an exercise programme for the first time 

  • Have a high carbohydrates snack about fifteen minutes prior to the exercise 

  • Wear cotton socks and well - fitting sports shoes during exercise and check for blistes, cuts or other injuries of the feet, periodically. 

  • Diabetics who suffer from numbness of their feet should restrict themselves to low impact exercises like swimming, walking or cycling. 

  • Always stock on some sugary snacks, or chocolates while exercising to counteract the effects of sudden decrease of blood sugar (hypoglycemia) Symptoms include increased heart rate, sweating, confusion and weakness. 

  • Drink plenty of fluids while exercising and avoid if suffering from flu or other illnesses 

  • Along with consistency in exercise timing is vital.

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