Fitness

Is Running good for Diabetics?

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Running, like any other form of exercise, definitely has its benefits. When it comes to people with diabetes, there are several questions and apprehensions around taking up an exercise, including running. The viewpoint held is that the body releases glucose induced by stress hormones such as adrenaline, released during physical labour or exertion. This can lead to a spike in blood glucose, which brings us to the question: Is running good for diabetes?

The good news is that running is good for those diagnosed with diabetes and the people who are showing borderline symptoms of diabetes. It doesn’t matter if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, so long as you are observing the Dos and Don’ts. In the case of pre-diabetes, running to prevent diabetes is a very good option. 

The first thing for beginners who are planning to run is to consult your doctor. Depending on the type of diabetes and your pre-existing medical conditions, your doctor will advise you on how to go about running. You need to put those safeguards in place before you become a runner. You must take into account your medical history. Beginners with high blood pressure or those who have recently undergone a surgical procedure should factor them in before gearing up to run.

It is advised to go slow initially. Do not try to over-achieve on the first day itself. Once your doctor has given you the green signal, learn to pace your running. Start with running slowly over short distances. As a runner, you must remember that you have to cover double the distance on your return trip. So do not end up running long distances and putting your organs under duress. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. 

Last but not the least, never forget to carry a bottle of water with you whenever or wherever you are running. Whether you are testing your speed on a treadmill or running on a tar road or in the park, keep yourself hydrated during and after running. If you have forgotten your bottle, try and buy a packaged water bottle or make the effort of taking a U-turn and getting a bottle from home. 

Benefits of Running for Diabetes

Running is a form of exercise. It is one of those exercises, which you can undertake at any time, any place. Unlike other exercises, you do not have to invest in anything but a good pair of shoes and a bottle of drinking water. That’s all. You are good to go. 

The incentives for running are several. Running helps you cut down on accumulated body fats. It helps you fight obesity and keeps your cholesterol levels under check. Running strengthens the heart. It forces the heart to work under pressure; expanding and contracting the arteries to regulate the desired blood flow. This prevents them from becoming rigid and makes them flexible. Running improves blood circulation, which optimizes the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood vessels. This is great news for people with diabetes who face the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Running also helps to improve the insulin sensitivity of people with diabetes. Running and insulin resistance have the same equation of a solution and problem. When muscles work out, the glucose in the bloodstream gets used up to meet the additional requirement of energy. Normally, glucose levels in the blood tend to fall during and after a light exercise. But heavy workouts and sprints can lead your liver to release adrenaline, which raises the blood glucose levels. So, you might want to set the treadmill speed on low when you first hit the gym or start with a walk and gradually move to jog and then running. 

Most benefits of running are preventative. It helps build our muscle strength and tones up our body, making us leaner and fitter. Running is believed to prevent the setting of osteoporosis. It is a great exercise for the lungs as well. It serves those exposed to the risk of cancer and diabetes very well. 

Tips for Running 

When you have been cleared by your doctor for running, you can bring the following measures into practice. These tips will help you gain the best of running as an exercise while ensuring you do not end up with low blood sugar. The important thing to remember is that running and diabetes can co-exist. 

  • Always check your blood glucose levels before you start running. You should repeat the procedure after you have completed running. 
  • Running with insulin pumps is alright and advisable. Persons with Type 2 diabetes should necessarily carry an insulin pump. 
  • When you are exercising, your body will demand more glucose, resulting in reduced levels of blood sugar. Ensure that you do not have low blood glucose levels while running. You can carry a sports drink or a homemade lemonade to prevent hypoglycemia.
  • Take short breaks when you are running long distances or if you are using the treadmill. Do not use up all your energy in one go. Give yourself some intermittent rest before you start to exercise your legs again. 
  • It is ideal to have a partner when you are running for longer periods. If the distance you are covering requires you to run more than an hour, it is good to have a running mate by your side. 
  • You should know when to stop running. Loss of blood glucose can lead to dizziness and nausea. Do not overexert yourself in pursuit of daily goals. 
  • Carry a medical prescription with you. In case of an emergency, help would be swift and timely. 
  • Eat right. What you eat goes into your bloodstream. Cultivate good eating habits before and after a running session. 

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Bottomline

Running is a good exercise for everybody. People with diabetes are no exception to it. Running and diabetes prevention go hand in hand. It works just the same on them, provided they consult a doctor first and take some basic precautions. Running has a great effect on the heart and lungs. It cuts down on fat drastically and improves muscle mass. For those with high blood sugar levels, running forces the body to consume sugar in the bloodstream. But one should take caution against hypoglycemia by keeping hydrated and taking short breaks before resuming running.

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