Exercising During Diabetes

There is a significant body of research that proves the myriad cardiovascular benefits of regular physical activity . Start off slowly, and build a plan that works well for you and meets your needs.  Regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. People with diabetes should consult their healthcare providers if they want to go beyond purposeful walking, to make sure that they are not at risk for cardiovascular, orthopedic or other problems. Go from walking to running in a gradual process. Begin with purposeful walking (for half an hour or so), then combine walking and jogging, and then increase the jogging. Consult with an expert when you buy the shoes. Make sure that they fit well and are appropriate for running. Measure your blood sugar before and after the activity. Carry juice, a sports drink, a piece of fruit or glucose tablets. Keep a training log, recording your miles and your blood glucose readings. Avoid late evening exercise. Exercise should be completed 2 hours before bedtime.


One of the most common causes of low blood glucose is too much physical activity. In fact, moderate to intense exercise may cause your blood glucose to drop for the next 24 hours following exercise. This post-exercise hypoglycemia is often referred to as the “lag effect” of exercise. Basically, when you exercise, the body uses two sources of fuel, sugar and free fatty acids  to generate energy. The sugar comes from the blood, the liver and the muscles. The sugar is stored in the liver and muscle in a form called glycogen. During the first 15 minutes of exercise, most of the sugar for fuel comes from either the blood stream or the muscle glycogen, which is converted back to sugar. After 15 minutes of exercise, however, the fuel starts to come more from the glycogen stored in the liver. After 30 minutes of exercise, the body begins to get more of its energy from the free fatty acids. As a result, exercise can deplete sugar levels and glycogen stores. The body will replace these glycogen stores but this process may take 4 to 6 hours, even 12 to 24 hours with more intense activity. During this rebuilding of glycogen stores, a person with diabetes can be at higher risk for hypoglycemia.


Yoga & Diabetes:

Regular yoga practice can help reduce the level of sugar in the blood, along with lowering blood pressure, keeping your weight in check, reducing the severity of the symptoms  and slowing the rate of progression of the disease. It also lessens the possibility of further complications. Stress is one of the major reasons for diabetes. It increases the secretion of glucagon (a hormone responsible for increasing blood glucose levels) in the body. The consistent practice of yoga aasanas, pranayam and a few minutes of meditation can help reduce stress in the mind and protect the body from its adverse effects. This, in turn, reducing the amount of glucagon and improve the action of insulin. Follow these four key yoga postures.


Benefit: Helps stimulate the hormonal secretion of the pancreas.
• Stand straight and keep your feet close to each other. Your knees, legs and hand should be held straight.
• Now bring your right foot and keep it on your left thigh. Try to make a right angle. If you are unable to keep your foot on the thigh, try to keep your foot on the left leg wherever you feel comfortable and maintain balance. But remember your right toe should point down wards. Your body balance should depend on the left leg.
• Join your palms and bring them to the middle of your chest and keep the figure pointing upwards. Slowly move your hands overhead. Raise your arms over your head. Your arms should be slightly bent. -Stand straight, look in front and try to be relaxed.
• Stay in this position for about 10 seconds. Breathe normally.
• Slowly bring your hands in the middle portion of the chest same as before, bring your right leg to the ground and come back in the starting position.
• Repeat the same procedure with the other leg.
• Try to repeat the whole procedure two to three times.


Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
Benefit: Improves the functioning of pancreas and intestines. Thus helps in controlling blood sugar levels. Organs like liver, pancreas, and enzyme producing organs will function actively by practicing this asana.
• Lie on your stomach with your feet hip width apart and your arms by the side of your body.
• Fold your knees and hold your ankles.
• Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back.
• Look straight ahead with a smile on your face. Curve your lips to match the curve of your body.
• Keep the pose stable while paying attention to your breath. Your body is now taut as a bow.
• Continue to take long deep breaths as you relax in this pose. But don’t get carried away. Do not overdo the stretch.
• After 15 -20 seconds, as you exhale, gently bring your legs and chest back to the ground.
• Release the ankles and relax.


Halasana (Plough Pose)
Benefit: It stimulates the pancreas, spleen and activates immune system by massaging all the internal organs including pancreas. It improves kidney and liver functioning and strengthens the abdominal muscles. It also rejuvenates the mind.
• Lie on your back with your arms beside you, palms downwards.
• As you inhale, use your abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the floor, raising your legs vertically at a 90-degree angle. Continue to breathe normally and supporting your hips and back with your hands, lift them off the ground.
• Allow your legs to sweep in a 180-degree angle over your head till your toes touch the floor.
• Your back should be perpendicular to the floor. This may be difficult initially, but make an attempt for a few seconds.
• Hold this pose and let your body relax more and more with each steady breath.
• After about a minute (a few seconds for beginners) of resting in this pose, you may gently bring your legs down on exhalation.
• Avoid jerking your body, while bringing the legs down.


Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Twist Pose)
Benefits: This asana massages the kidneys, pancreas, small intestines, gall bladder and liver, helping to stimulate digestion and squeeze out toxins. Useful for diabetics, with concentration on the pancreas.Increases the elasticity of the spine, tones the spinal nerves.
• Sit on the carpet, stretch the legs straight.
• Fold the right leg. Keep the right leg’s heel touching the left leg’s knee.
• Take the right hand to back of the waist twisting your trunk, spread palms inside and place it on the carpet.
• Bring the left hand close to right knee and hold the right leg’s ankle or big toe with the left hand.
• Twist the head and shoulder to right side and look straight to the right shoulder’s side (i.e back side).