How Cycling Can Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
Cycling has been a popular activity for centuries and is one of the best forms of exercise. It has been proven to increase muscle mass, improve cardiovascular fitness levels, and help with weight management.
But did you know that cycling can also help control blood sugar levels? That's right. You must only pedal for at least 15-20 minutes daily and watch your sugar levels stabilize.
Let us check more on the wonders of cycling for people with diabetes in the content below.
How Cycling Can Help Control Blood Sugar Level
There are numerous ways cycling can help in managing blood sugar levels. They include:
1. Burns calories
Cycling is one of the most effective ways to cut down on calories. Riding a bike for at least 30 minutes at a moderate speed can burn more than 400 calories. Doing this will result in significant weight loss over some time.
The low-intensity exercise also boosts the metabolism, which in turn helps burn more fat. It benefits people struggling with diabetes, as they will find it easier to control their blood sugar levels. Cycling can help you shed off that excess body weight and get your blood sugar levels under control faster.
2. Improves insulin sensitivity
One of the many reasons for diabetes is poor insulin sensitivity, also called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone used to convert calories into energy for the body. But it also drops blood sugar levels and prevents further cell damage.
When a person has poor insulin sensitivity, managing blood sugar levels and preventing other disease conditions becomes harder. The result is often weight gain, which is closely linked to diabetes. Diet pills, medications, or healthy eating plans may help control this condition, but they are not always effective enough to restore insulin sensitivity to the pre-diabetes stage.
Cycling is an effective way of improving insulin sensitivity in the long run. Regular exercise can raise HDL and insulin production by fat cells. The blood sugar level, therefore, will be kept within normal range.
3. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response that your body uses to fight infections, injury, and other problems. But in the case of diabetes, it becomes swollen and bountiful, affecting blood sugar levels and leading to other health risks.
Cycling lowers inflammation by strengthening the cardiovascular system. Exercise also boosts the immune system. Repeated movement also causes improvement in insulin production and sensitivity levels necessary for safe blood sugar control. The results will be visible over time. However, they can become more prominent with frequent cycling sessions.
4. Minimize stress
The stress hormone Cortisol is often blocked by cycling. Cycling helps raise the level of chemicals in the brain that control stress. The reduced cortisol levels will curb stress and regulate blood sugar levels.
Not only are you protecting your health during cycling, but you will also be helping your body cope with stress more effectively, which will, in turn, help minimize blood sugar levels and improve other health conditions.
It is another benefit of cycling for people with diabetes who are constantly stressed out by their stressful lives.
5. Boosts cardiovascular health
Cycling is an aerobic exercise that strengthens the heart and improves cardiovascular health. Bike rides for at least 30 minutes daily can assist with managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, keeping your heart healthy.
Cycling uses many muscles in the body. It develops flexibility and endurance, which are vital for effective weight management. Cycling can help build a leaner physique and create a stronger core, reducing the risk of injuries.
It also builds strength, which can aid in building more muscle mass.
6. Elevates mood
Cycling is a very mood-boosting exercise. It releases endorphins into the bloodstream, making you feel great and energetic. You will feel more upbeat when you pedal to work or go on a recreational ride. Elevated mood and regular exercise can also help control cravings for sugar and other food, which is vital in blood sugar management.
7. Promotes glucose utilization
Cycling enhances glucose utilization. Glucose is one of the primary nutrients present in our body. It is usually used for energy. Cycles help reduce your intake of carbohydrates and calories while maintaining your insulin sensitivity levels at high levels. Your body uses more efficient glucose, preventing blood sugar levels from spiking after meals or snacks.
Tips for cycling with diabetes
Now that you know all the benefits of cycling to manage blood sugar levels, let us check out some tips you can use to get started.
The impact of dehydration, especially for individuals with diabetes, can be disastrous. The body is constantly losing water due to sweating. Therefore, drinking plenty of water throughout the day is recommended, even when not exercising. A glass of water every hour will do the trick. You can also consider drinking an electrolyte solution or sports drink after riding your bike or running for a short while.
2. Bike fit
Try different pedaling positions and gears on your bike so you can set them correctly for your frame size and weight range. A good fit will help you pedal comfortably without back or neck pain and more quickly and efficiently benefit from cycling regularly. The right saddle does not bring complications on the perineum, a soft tissue between the legs. A saddle that comes too close to the genitals can cause irritation or infection.
3. Take more glucose
It would be wise to manage the amount of glucose in your bloodstream by eating small, frequent meals or snacks. More often than not, those who eat fewer carbohydrate-rich foods tend to have higher insulin levels. Consuming more carbohydrates regulates the insulin level needed in your system and its action on blood sugar.
4. Listen to your body
You will know when you are pushing yourself too hard. Pushing beyond your limits will not help you achieve your goals. Cycling should be fun and ensure that it does not aggravate your diabetes condition or cause other bodily complications.
While on that bike, you will be out of breath and sweating. It is customary and reasonable as it will give you adequate exercise to control your cravings for sweet foods. But still, if the intensity of the exercise is getting you tired quickly, take some breaks now and then. Breathe properly, especially during uphill climbs, so you do not pass out due to lack of oxygen in the body.
6. Tidy up
As you manage your blood sugar levels, saddle sores should not be a problem anymore. But sweat and dirt from cycling can cause itchy, sore areas, especially on the perineum. It is highly uncomfortable, and you should avoid it. Clean your bike regularly if you can, or at least spray it with lubricant to prevent that from happening.
7. Consult your doctor
Do not rush if you are unsure what your body can handle. Let your doctor be the one to guide you on how much exercise you can handle. Your doctor will also help monitor your blood sugar levels and treat complications like dehydration, infections, or back pain.
8. Warm up before cycling
Cycling should not hurt your knees or back. Be sure to warm up and stretch before you begin. It will also lower the risk of injuries and remove the pain in your joints, muscles, and tendons.
9. Avoid cycling in extreme temperatures
You should avoid cycling when it is too hot or cold as the weather will affect your body temperature. Put on an extra layer of clothing to protect yourself from extreme heat and cold if you feel it is necessary. But remember that exercising in cold weather can raise your metabolism, so if you don't have to, try not to.
10. Purchase snacks
Cycling should give you a good amount of energy, but if it makes you too exhausted, try eating some gels or other glucose-rich snacks or food after your workout to have enough energy for the rest of the day. Your muscles will also need protein after working out, so try eating lean proteins such as chicken breast, fish, or cottage cheese.
11. Ride with your identification
You can carry a card that indicates you have diabetes. It is a good idea to ensure that in case you are in an accident, the hospital will know your condition and act accordingly. Also, ensure they know how your body reacts to insulin, sugar levels, and other medications you might be taking.
12. Set your goals
It's easy to get distracted when cycling, but if you want to improve your performance and reach out for new goals, you need to set some goals of your own. Setting goals is essential if you want your workouts to become a habit rather than a chore or something you would rather avoid at all costs. It will keep you motivated and ensure that cycling becomes part of your daily schedule without forcing yourself too hard.
13. Pick your routes
You can spot areas with restrooms, restaurants, and convenience stores along your cycling route. If you plan before cycling, it will be easier to spot one of these. If you are not that organized with your schedule, avoid cycling during work hours when it is hard to find places to eat or stop for a bathroom break.
14. Take precautions
Cycling can be pretty damaging, especially if riding on rough roads or paths full of rocks and debris. You should always wear a helmet as it can safeguard your life and prevent serious head injuries from occurring during an accident. Cycling gloves can also help prevent hand injuries since the hands are always exposed while riding a bike.
15. Cycle with your friends
You can have company while cycling and it will be fun to do it too. You can also make cycling a group activity for your family, friends, or co-workers. You can help each other achieve your goals and keep the motivation simultaneously.
16. Carry your diabetes supplies
Even if you are on your own, you need to take a few supplies that are necessary to have with you. You should take your insulin and any medications you might be taking, as they will be more difficult to find in an emergency. You will not want to be stuck in an emergency with no glucose drops handy.
17. Take it slow
Always avoid riding recklessly and too fast, especially when it is dark out. You have no idea if any vehicles are coming from the opposite direction or other dangers around you, such as animals or people who may try to run into the road without looking at their surroundings.
1. How long should a diabetic bike ride?
A short ride should be at least 20-30 minutes. If you have not exercised for a while or been away from it for a long time, exercise on days that are not your working days, as your muscles need an extra boost of energy to work out the lactic acid in your musculature.
2. When Should Diabetics Stop Exercising?
People with diabetes should halt exercise if they encounter signs of low blood sugar, such as dizziness, shakiness, or confusion. Likewise, exercise might worsen the situation if blood sugar is extremely high.
Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and swift response to abnormal readings are essential. Always prioritize safety and consult your healthcare provider for tailored guidance on managing exercise and diabetes.
3. Can I exercise during illness?
Exercising during illness, especially with a fever, infection, or other health issues, can affect your blood sugar levels and overall well-being. Avoiding intense exercise during illness and focusing on rest, hydration, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels is often recommended.
Cycling is not only healthy and enjoyable for your body but for your brain as well. It is a great way to have fun and keep your mind healthy at the same time. If you have diabetes, do not be shy about it. Some people may be afraid to admit it. With cycling, it is easier to control your blood sugar level.
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