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Exercise and Diet for Diabetes Patients

written by: Ravneet Kaur • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/19/2011

Making healthy life choices, such as following a proper diabetes exercise and diet regimen, plays a crucial role in managing diabetes. In some cases, you can even reverse type 2 diabetes following a proper and healthy lifestyle.

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    Making Healthy Life Choices

    Diabetes is often associated with sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and hereditary issues. It is often the fallout from obesity in some individuals. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health found that obesity poses a great risk of type 2 diabetes. The study showed that regular exercise and low fat, high fiber diet significantly helps with type 2 diabetes prevention. Therefore, the best way to prevent diabetes is to stay focused on healthy eating habits and following a proper exercise regimen, which would help cut the extra fat around your belly and thus keep you immune to several diseases. A clinical trial conducted at the National Institute of Health claims that 10 million Americans, who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, can lower their chances of being infected with the disease with diet and exercise. In fact, this is the best way to treat diabetes naturally.

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    Importance of Proper Diabetes Exercise and Diet Regimen

    Regular exercise is extremely important for a diabetic, as it reduces total cholesterol, burns calories, reduces blood triglycerides, improves the low-density lipoprotein:high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, and lowers blood pressure and stress levels. High cholesterol and high blood pressure pose a threat of stroke and cardiac attack and exercise reduces this risk. With regular exercise, you can maintain shape as well as a healthy weight, thus cutting down extra fat around your belly. Apple-shaped obesity puts an individual at a higher risk of diabetes than pear-shaped obesity. Regular exercise ensures that the body responds to insulin and effectively reduces and regulates blood glucose. Exercise helps reduce circulation in your body, especially in the arms and legs, where people afflicted with diabetes often experience pain. Exercise also reduces stress, which is often associated with high glucose levels.

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    Exercises for Diabetics

    A diabetic must consult a physician or doctor about which exercise would suit his body because overstressing yourself can be harmful and pose the risk of an insulin imbalance. Walking is often the best exercise a diabetic can indulge in because of the least risk of overstressing oneself associated with it. Besides, swimming, jogging and biking are good exercises to begin your diabetes exercise regimen. Don’t overstress yourself from day one; gradually increasing the intensity of exercise would do you a great deal of good. Do not lift heavy weights or indulge in hard exercises, because of the risk of a sudden rise in blood pressure. Stretching for five minutes before beginning your workout will greatly help you focus more. Draw up an exercise regimen and try to exercise the same time every day and for the same duration, which will help you control your blood glucose.

    If you do not take insulin, always check your blood glucose levels prior to and after exercising. However, if your blood glucose level is more than 300 mg/dl, it is better not to exercise. Besides, if you are not feeling well, you are short of breath or you are experiencing tingling, pain, sensation or numbness in your legs, refrain from indulging in exercises. This might have an adverse impact and lead to serious consequences. Therefore, it is better to consult your physician and dietitian with regard to your diabetes exercise and diet plan. A doctor would check your progress and recommend medication according to the changes in your condition as a result of regular exercise.

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    Stress Management

    According to Drake University Medical Center, integrating stress management techniques into your dietary exercise regimen will help regulate blood glucose levels. Practicing stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and participation in like-minded groups, will have a positive impact and keep blood pressure and blood sugar under control.

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    Diabetes Diet

    There is no such special diet that can be prescribed for all diabetics. Diet for a diabetic must take the patient’s condition and lifestyle habits into consideration. According to the American Diabetes Association, a diabetic diet should focus on deriving about 60 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from fats and 20 percent from proteins. The best type of diabetes diet will comprise of high-fiber, low-fat products, low glycemic carbohydrate sources, and less saturated and trans fatty acids. Balancing your fat:carbohydrate:protein ratio is the key to maintaining a proper diabetes diet regimen. Food rich in fiber is best for a diabetic patient because it is not easily digested or processed by the body and thus does not increase the blood glucose levels. You can always reserve a day to savor your favorite dessert or sweet dish so that you do not have to renounce it all together.

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    Some Easy Tips To Follow

    • Drink lots of water
    • Eat at least five or six small meals every day
    • Don’t ever try eating one big meal for that full feeling
    • Eat food rich in fiber
    • Replace your snacks with fruits
    • Exercise daily
    • Consult your doctor regularly
    • Monitor your sugar levels consistently
    • Watch your portion size
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    Bottom Line

    Various studies have shown that the combination of a proper diet, stress management, regular exercise, relaxation, meditation and weight management help lower blood sugar levels. Incorporating lifestyle changes under the guidance of a physician and dietitian will help keep a check on your blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular and renal diseases.

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    References

    1. Diet and Exercise: http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/academics/physed/wellness/diet_diabetes.html
    2. Diet and Exercise Dramatically Delay Type 2 Diabetes: http://health.ucsd.edu/news/2001/08_08_DPP.html
    3. Can type 2 diabetes be prevented through diet and exercise: https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/3251/CanType2DiabetesPrevented.pdf?sequence=1
    4. Diet & Diabetes: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/pdfs/fcs389.pdf
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