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Avoiding Heart Disease: Lifestyle and Exercise for Diabetics

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

As of 2020, there are 3,993,300 reported cases of diabetes in Filipino adults. Diabetes is a chronic illness that occurs when blood glucose or blood sugar is too high, and the body produces little to no insulin. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to many potential complications like eye damage, kidney damage, nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

The Connection between Diabetes and Heart Disease

Heart disease includes several kinds of problems that affect your heart while cardiovascular disease covers a wider range of illnesses including heart disease, stroke, and blood vessel disease like coronary artery disease.

Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits. It can build up, harden, and narrow the coronary arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs. Decreased blood flow to heart can cause a heart attack, while decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke. The longer and more unmanaged the case of diabetes, the higher risk of developing heart disease. Adults with diabetes have 2-4x increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Here are other lifestyle factors that increases the chance of heart disease/stroke in diabetics:

  • Smoking

  • High-Blood Pressure

  • High Cholesterol

  • Obesity

  • Family History of Heart Disease

However, diabetics can take steps to lower the risk for heart attack or stroke, we can call them the Diabetes ABCs:

  • A is for the A1C Test. This test measures the percentage of red blood cells that are covered in sugar from the blood stream. It shows the average blood glucose in the past three months. The higher the percentage, the higher level of glucose. Consult with your doctor what is a healthy A1C percentage for you.

  • B is for Blood Pressure. Generally, patients with diabetes should be below 140 over 90, or what blood pressure your doctor identifies as a healthy range for you.

  • C is for Cholesterol. Diabetics need to control their LDL or bad cholesterol. Some patients might be required to take maintenance medicine to keep their LDL at a safe level.

  • s is for Stop Smoking.

It is vital to maintain healthy lifestyle habits such as: following a healthy eating plan, staying or getting to a healthy weight, making physical activity a daily routine, getting enough sleep, and managing stress.

Diabetes-friendly Exercises for the Heart

There are many benefits of exercise for diabetics:

  • controls blood sugar

  • increases lung and immune system function

  • reduces cardiovascular risk factors

  • reduces body weigh

  • reduces blood pressure

  • improves cholesterol levels

  • decreases triglycerides

There are different types of exercise:

Aerobic exercise is the continuous or repetitive movement of large muscle groups. This includes walking, cycling, jogging, swimming. Individuals should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise per week. You should be doing this 3-7 days a week, no more than 2 days without exercise.

Resistance or strength exercise uses free weights, weight machines, body weight, or resistance bands. 15 repetitions of moderate to vigorous intensity. 8 to 10 exercises with completion for 1-3 sets. Resistance training should be done 2-3 non-consecutive days per week.

Flexibility exercise are exercises that improve the movement of joints like stretching and yoga. Holding poses for 10-30 seconds, 2-4 times. This should be done 2-3 days per week

Balance exercise are exercises that improves mobility. This includes standing on one leg, using balance equipment, tai chi, and lower body and core exercises. Balance exercises should be done 2-3 days per week at any duration.

Diabetics should take some precautions when doing exercise:

  • Make sure to have someone with you

  • Wear the appropriate attire and a diabetic identification band

  • Bring sufficient food and water

  • Be aware of the symptoms of low blood sugar

  • Inspect your legs and feet for wounds

  • Avoid getting dehydrated

  • Always warm-up and cool down

The American College of Sports Medicine says, “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time.” So take a glass of Diabetasol before exercising as pre-workout fuel, or after exercise as a recovery drink. High in Calcium, high in fiber, cholesterol-free, and packed with 11 vitamins and 6 minerals, Diabetasol is the best partner for a healthy lifestyle.


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