Exercise — along with diet and medication — can be effective in helping diabetics manage their disease. But ThirdAge fitness guru Chad Tackett warns that too much exercise, like too much insulin or insufficient food, can bring on an episode of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
Before beginning an exercise program, Tackett advises diabetics to consult with their doctor about monitoring and adjusting insulin dosages and injection sites. It may also be a good idea to undergo an ECG-monitored exercise test to rule out cardiovascular abnormalities before starting an exercise program.
Some basic precautions and recommendations:
- Cardiovascular exercise is best suited to “burn” calories, promote fat reduction, and metabolize blood glucose efficiently. Diabetics can best control their blood-sugar levels with exercise that is predictable and consistent in duration, intensity and frequency, such as walking three days a week for 30 minutes at a heart rate of 65 percent of their maximum heart rate.
- Obese type II diabetics should follow the guidelines for non-diabetic obese exercisers, which include low-impact, low intensity cardiovascular exercise, 3-5 times per week.