You may have heard exercise helps you burn extra sugar in your body and that it can make your body more sensitive to insulin, which is a good thing. But knowing that you should exercise doesn’t always make it easier to do it, especially with diabetic people. So cycling vs walking, which one should diabetic people choose?
Benefits of cycling for people with diabetes
1. Cycling is proven to lower the risk of adopting type 2 diabetes by 20%
Regular practice of this aerobic exercise helps your body produce and use blood sugar at a healthy rate, which helps to prevent diabetes over time. Making an effort to ride a bike for at least 20 miles per week, or just under 3 miles per day, will also reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50% for those living with the disease.
You’re already at risk for several heart-related issues if you have high blood sugar, and cycling will help you avoid these potentially fatal complications. This risk reduction is possible because biking forces your heart to pump, forcing your lungs and heart to work overtime, lowering blood pressure, lowering the risk of obesity, and reducing the risk of other adverse effects that are already increased with T2D.
One of the most common diabetes-related complications is nerve and circulation damage. High blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels over time, causing circulation to slow, numbness, and, in extreme cases, amputation. When cycling is a regular part of your daily routine, you force blood to flow through the body and avoid potential conflicts.
2. Cycling promotes muscle building
Forming and strengthening muscle is essential for people with type 2 diabetes because muscle helps regulate blood sugar levels. As you work to build muscle, blood sugar must be transferred to this organ for more energy in order to increase muscle mass. As a result, the amount of sugar in your bloodstream will be reduced.
When you do muscle-building aerobic exercises like cycling, your body acts as a pump, pushing blood sugar out of the bloodstream and into the muscle for fuel as it grows. Because there is less blood sugar present, insulin can function more efficiently. Furthermore, if you have too much blood glucose, sugar will eventually attach to collagen in your bones, changing the structure of your bones. The bones become less flexible and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures and breaks. Because of this process, increasing bone density through biking is ideal for people with type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, cycling can be a great and easy way to incorporate exercise into your daily life and diabetes care plan!
Benefits of walking to diabetic people
1. Better blood sugar control
When you exercise, your body uses glucose (sugar) as energy, just like a car uses gas, explains Kemmis. Type 2 diabetes causes the body’s blood sugar to become too high, but exercise helps you use that sugar and, as a result, lowers it. In fact, regular exercise can help improve your A1C, a blood sugar control test that measures your average blood sugar control over the previous two to three months.
2. Weight management
The number of calories you burn depends on a variety of factors, including your age, weight, intensity, and distance — but you burn calories whenever you move, and walking can help you reach your weight-loss goals. Remember that in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume, and a healthy diet is just as important as exercise. Walking is also an excellent tool for sustaining weight loss. “People who are successful at losing weight are usually exercisers,” says Kemmis.
3. Improved heart health
According to the World Heart Foundation, people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who do not have diabetes. Aerobic exercise strengthens both your heart and your entire cardiovascular system. Walking can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
4. Improved mood and stress relief
Managing type 2 diabetes is difficult and stressful in and of itself. What’s a good way to calm your nerves? Take a stroll. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that can improve your mood and relieve stress. Diabetes patients are more likely to develop depression than non-diabetics, and exercise can be one tool for caring for your emotional health.
5. Better sleep
You sleep better at night if you exercise during the day. Norma Lopez, MD, an associate professor of endocrinology at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, says, “It’s a more restful sleep.” According to the American Diabetes Association, better sleep equals better diabetes control.
6. Fewer complications
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a variety of serious health problems, including vision, foot, and kidney problems, as well as nerve damage. According to Dr. Lopez, exercise can help you manage type 2 diabetes better, and the better you manage your diabetes, the lower your risk of complications.
Cycling vs walking, which sport is better for diabetes?
Poor circulation in the lower body is one of the major health issues for people with diabetes, so it stands to reason that cardiovascular exercise could be a way to mitigate the effects of diabetes.
The University of South Australia recently conducted a study comparing the benefits of cycling and walking for women with Type II diabetes. It discovered that people with type 2 diabetes may benefit more from cycling than walking for exercise because it is associated with lower levels of pressure in the feet. When compared to walking, moderate cycling resulted in lower blood pressure in the feet and nearly 20% lower blood glucose levels, indicating that cycling can be used to mediate blood sugar spikes.
However, the best exercise for a diabetic is one that they will do on a regular basis, i.e. on a daily basis. And, while both are extremely beneficial, keep in mind that the more intense the exercise, the better.
Tips for cycling & walking with diabetes
Cycling vs walking, whatever you choose, you can safely exercise when you have diabetes. Here are some quick tips. Or if you want to get some professional advice, go and check tips for exercising safely when you have diabetes.
1. Get your doctor’s OK
Inform them of your intentions. They can make sure you’re prepared. They’ll also see if you need to adjust your diet, insulin, or diabetes medications. Your doctor can also tell you if the time of day you exercise is important.
2. Check your blood sugar
Check with your doctor to see if you should check it before exercising. If you plan to work out for more than an hour, monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the workout to see if you need a snack. After each workout, check your blood sugar to see if you need to make any adjustments.
3. Carry carbs
Workouts can help you control your blood sugar levels. Always keep a small carbohydrate snack on hand, such as fruit or a fruit drink, in case your blood sugar drops.
4. Ease into it
If you are not currently active, begin with 10 minutes of exercise at a time. Work your way up to 30 minutes per day. If you feel shaky, anxious, weak, or confused, sweat more than usual, your heart is racing, or you have a headache, stop exercising.
5. Make it a habit
To avoid low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, exercise, eat, and take your medications at the same time every day.
6. Go public
Work out with someone who is aware of your diabetes and knows what to do if your blood sugar drops dangerously low. Text a friend and invite them to join you. When you’re in good company and have someone cheering you on, time seems to fly by! It’s also more enjoyable. Wear a medical identification tag or carry a diabetes identification card just in case.
7. Be good to your feet
Wear athletic shoes that are in good condition and are appropriate for your activity. For example, don’t jog in tennis shoes because running requires a different type of support for your foot. Your sneakers should be well-fitting and have plenty of toe room.
Even if you didn’t work out that day, check and clean your feet daily for blisters, cuts, bumps, redness, or sores. Inform your doctor if you develop any new foot problems.
Drink water before, during, and after exercise, even if you’re not thirsty.
Now you have your own answer for the question: cycling vs walking, which one should you choose. They are not only for managing diabetes but also for promoting your overall health. Learn how to stay safe and minimize your risk of injury, while meeting your fitness goals.