Diabetes and exercise

Diabetes and exercise

Written by: Emma Anius


Diabetes is a word that everyone is familiar with and probably has a family member or friend who is affected by it.  But do we really know how diabetes affects us or how we can control and prevent it from happening?

St. Lucia had the highest rates of diabetes in the world, with 28.1% of the population having abnormal blood glucose or high blood sugar and 8.1 % of the population being diabetic.  A study carried out by a Canadian health expert (2007) revealed that based on current trends the rate of diabetes in St. Lucia will double every four years.

Diabetes is caused when the body doesn’t produce the hormone insulin or because the body doesn’t utilize the insulin available effectively.

After you eat, the food breaks down into sugar and enters the bloodstream and is used as a primary source of energy. Normally the body responds by producing insulin, which allows sugar to enter the tissues.  But if you have diabetes this process doesn’t happen which causes and increase in blood sugar levels.

Due to advances in medication, diabetes is manageable- it just means a life of checking your blood glucose level daily, paying close attention to the foods you eat and insulin injections may be required to manage your blood chemistry.

Instead of having to go through all that trouble a simpler way to help prevent diabetes is incorporating EXERCISE into your daily routine.

The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week should be devoted physical activity, which is only 20 minutes of exercise a day!

Exercise has proven to have a greater protective effect for those at highest risk. In some cases, exercise has a greater beneficial effect than changes in diet.

Exercise doesn’t just help those trying to prevent getting diabetes, it can also help those that already have it!  It reduces the body’s need for insulin by keeping weight down. It also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, so glucose is used more effectively.  As long as you have enough insulin in your body, your muscles burn glucose during exercise, naturally reducing your blood sugar level!

The number one risk factor for diabetes is obesity; other risk factors include poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  And what do all of these have in common? EXERCISE can prevent all of the above!

Exercise can be beneficial to your health in many ways, but if you have diabetes, testing your blood sugar before, during and after exercise may be just as important as the exercise itself.

As most Type 2 diabetics are overweight and likely to not have exercised in a while, exercises like walking and swimming are advised as they are low impact and a good way to ease you back into exercising.

Strength training is good for those with diabetes as it can increase lean muscle mass, which will help in weight management, as well as increase glucose uptake by the muscles and help the body to store glucose.  Safety precautions must be followed for the exercising diabetic, so consult with your doctor before starting any exercise routines.

Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.


If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:


Sit ups x 10, push-ups x 10, plank x 30 sec, squats x 10, 5min jog on spot


Sit ups x 20, push-ups x 20, plank x 60 sec, squats x 15, 5min jog on spot


Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’

Email: emma@cyanfitness.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cyanfitness



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