Put exercise in your diabetes control toolkitBy
On this last day of May, we bid farewell to National Exercise Month, but not to the potential it has highlighted. Physical activity is a powerful weapon in the effort to improve blood sugar control, according to the Diabetes Management & Supplies welcome guide for people living with diabetes.
Exercise lowers blood sugar, which is great, but it also lowers insulin resistance. This benefit lasts up to 72 hours afterward. With regular exercise, something wonderful happens: the A1c goes down. In fact, studies show exercise improves the A1c as much as 1 -2 points, making it as effective as most diabetes medications, including insulin.
Exercise lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, both common health problems with diabetes. It also burns calories and gives you more energy.
Think of an activity you can see yourself doing on a regular basis – walking, biking, whatever you might enjoy. Then check with your doctor to make sure your plan is safe and will not cause any problems for you. Once you decide what exercise you will do, pick a time of day you are most likely to do it. If you are not a morning person, don’t pick the morning. If you have childcare or family tasks that occupy your afternoons, steer clear of that time. The best time to exercise is when you will do it!
Start with small sessions — 10 minutes the first few days — then add one or two minutes as you feel more comfortable. Your long term goal is at least 150 minutes a week. For most people, this means five days a week for 30 minutes. It could be six times a week for 25 minutes, or 3 times a week for 50 minutes. Just get it done!
The key word here is comfortable! You should feel as though you can talk the entire time and not be out of breath. When you are finished, you should feel refreshed. Exercise should give you energy, not wear you out.
The DMS I’m in Control program recommends using the Borg Scale for Rating of Perceived Exertion when you exercise. It is a useful way of checking the intensity of your exercise program. The scale is also helpful when you are trying to manage a limited amount of energy to complete your daily actions.
WebDM explains that by using the Borg Scale you can learn to monitor your performance and intensity. Exercising at moderate levels will help you to increase your exercise endurance and improve your lung function. The Borg Scale helps you recognize when you are exerting at a level that may put you at risk for injury. Learning to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion does not require any special skills or equipment. The scale lets you keep your exercise pace without having to stop to take your pulse rate.
“While you are exercising, try to estimate how hard you feel the work is,” WebMD adds. ”Rate the degree of perceived exertion you feel. Include the total amount of exertion and physical fatigue.”
Concentrate on how hard you feel you are working and rate your effort using the scale. Your goal is to keep a rating between 3 and 4 on the scale.
Exercise is one tool that can help you achieve good blood sugar control. DMS diabetes educators can show you more and help you learn how to self- manage your diabetes through individual sessions and variety of programs and classes. For more information on specific exercise needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929.