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Getting Active with Diabetes

December 3, 2012 by Marc Faktor, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Getting Active with Diabetes

If you have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes regular physical activity should be one of your major priorities! Regular activity helps your body use insulin more efficiently (increases insulin sensitivity) which helps better control your blood sugar (i.e. glucose) so you may require less medication.

Activity also helps you improve your mood and self confidence; reduces depression, stress, and fatigue; improves your sleep; reduces your risk for diseases associated with diabetes (e.g. kidney disease, heart disease, eye disease); decreases chances of nerve damage and related amputations; and it helps you lose fat mass and increase your fat free mass (muscle) which improves your metabolic rate, increases insulin sensitivity, and promotes healthy weight loss and maintenance.

Some tips to keep in mind when getting active:

  • Talk to your doctor about your plans to increase your activity and ensure your medications aren’t going to conflict with your plans.
  • Have a consultation with an exercise professional. The Physical Activity Line is ALWAYS here to help you get active safely, and efficiently. Don't hesitate to call PAL at 8-1-1 for FREE and professional advice. 
  • Start slow and gradually progress. Even 10 minutes does wonders at the start. 
  • Ensure you're well hydrated and have adequate energy to get moving.
  • Take your blood glucose before, during, and after exercise to know how your body responds. 
  • Carry a small snack containing simple sugars/fast acting carbohydrates (e.g. glucose pills or candy) in case your blood sugars drop.
  • Do a 5-10 min warm up (e.g. light walk or cycle and dynamic stretch) to prep your body and prevent injury. Don’t forget a 5-10 minute cool down! 
  • Carry medical identification, wear supportive shoes, and exercise with a partner.

Some great activity resources from Canadian Diabetes Association:

Benefits of physical activity
Planning for regular physical activity 
Maintaining Aerobic Exercise 
Resistance Exercise

Remember: Healthy eating and proper medication use are also essential to prevent, treat, and manage diabetes. Call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietician, pharmacist, or nurse to discuss your condition.

Have fun and be safe!

References & Helpful Resources

Physical Activity Line


CDA: Exercise

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