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Diabetes and Physical Activity Q&A

November 5, 2015 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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At the Physical Activity Line, my colleagues and I hear from a lot of individuals living with diabetes who want to be more active. You might be able to relate, or maybe you know someone in the same situation. Luckily there are some things you can do to help manage diabetes and can even help prevent it.

There are different types of diabetes. For this post, I’ll focus on answering some common questions about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

What is Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Most people who get type 2 diabetes have prediabetes first. In type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels are even higher because your body is not producing enough, or is not able to use, the hormone insulin. Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment for:

Can I Prevent Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?

Focus on good nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity to help prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Look at your risk factors and try to manage those that are in your control.

How Does Physical Activity Help?

Physical activity has both short- and long-term benefits. During activity, working muscles can use blood sugar (without insulin) which leads to less sugar in the blood. In the long-term, regular activity improves how your body uses insulin, helps you maintain a healthy weight, decreases blood pressure, and lowers the risk of diabetes complications (like eye damage).

What Type of Activity is Best When Exercising with Type 2 Diabetes?

If you are new to exercise, walking is often the best type to do (if you don’t have any foot problems). Generally, the activities that you enjoy are ideal. Keep it fun and you’ll keep doing it!

What Precautions Should I Take?

I recommend monitoring your blood sugar levels pre- and post-exercise to make sure they are appropriate. Other safety precautions include: wearing a medical alert bracelet and carrying fast-acting carbohydrate, such as glucose tablets.

Living a healthy lifestyle is your best way to reduce your chance of any chronic health conditions. If you have concerns about diabetes, other chronic health conditions, or would like modifications for an activity, give the Physical Activity Line (1-877-725-1149) a call and speak with a Qualified Exercise Professionals for FREE, you can also send us a Tweet @HealthyFamilyBC or @TeamPAL.


Related blogs

Hypertension and Physical Activity Q&A
Heart Disease and Physical Activity Q&A

Recommended resources

Physical Activity Line: Diabetes - Recommended Activities
Canadian Diabetes Association: Physical Activity & Exercise

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