World Diabetes Day 2014: Exercise tips for diabetics

Did you know controlling diabetes is as easy as walking or cycling? All you need is commitment and patience

Exercise acts like a multi-intent drug that can work off several problems like obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol associated with diabetes. Therefore, just like any other prescribed medicine, one should exercise a particular amount a day and for a particular amount of time. 'In terms of physical activity, the dose of exercise is the amount of effort involved, frequency is the number of sessions per week and duration is the number of minutes per session. The amount of exercise prescribed to a person will depend upon his physical capacity, his motivation level and his daily routine,' says Dr Atul Luthra, Additional Director & Senior Consultant Fortis C-DOC, FMRI, Gurgaon.

Dr Luthra highlights a few things diabetic individuals should remember before exercising.

Stay committed: Many people start exercising but stop abruptly due to lack of motivation. Such people come up with a set of stereotyped excuses for not exercising. Some of the common excuses are:

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  • I m already active enough
  • I have long working hours
  • I get tired
  • There s no place to exercise
  • The weather is bad
  • I don t have company, it s boring

All these excuses just indicate that you either do not have the drive or the intent to exercise. Your only intention to begin exercising is to boost your overall health. Exercise will not only help you lose weight but also control blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It will improve your sleep, reduce your stress levels and also boost your self-esteem. (Read: World Diabetes Day: How a healthy breakfast can prevent diabetes)

Consult your doctor before exercising: Diabetic patients who intend to begin regular exercise should discuss it first with a doctor who can assess their heart fitness. Those who have been inactive should start with low level of exercise and gradually increase their physical activity. Preferably, a baseline treadmill test must be performed if you:

  • Are over 35 years of age
  • Are living with type 2 diabetes mellitus over 10 years
  • Have multiple heart disease risk factors
  • Followed a sedentary lifestyle
  • Have autonomic neuropathy
  • Have advanced nephropathy

Be careful if you're suffering from a diabetic complication: Diabetic patients with foot problems and neuropathy should use proper footwear to protect their feet. Patients with proliferative retinopathy should avoid unnecessary straining during exercise or else they may develop retinal hemorrhage. (Here are 3 reasons you re unable to keep diabetes under control)

Here are some forms of exercises you can start practising:

Endurance exercises (aerobics): These set of exercises involve repetitive rhythmic contractions of large muscle groups at a low force (isotonic exercises). Examples include walking, cycling and swimming.

Resistance training (calisthenics): These exercises involve infrequent intense contractions of small muscle groups at a high force (isometric exercises). Examples are weight-lifting and racquet sports like tennis.

Discretionary exercises include brisk walking in the park or using a treadmill or bicycle at home. Recreational exercises include hitting the gym or a health-club or taking part in swimming or a racquet- sport. Examples of work-related exercises include parking the vehicle at a distance, using stairs instead of the elevators and walking for short-trips.

(Read: World Diabetes Day 2014: 5 reasons diabetes has become an epidemic in India)

Image source: Getty images

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