Stress can take a toll on your health, especially for people with diabetes. Blood sugar levels rise when you are stressed. Exercise is a way to minimize stress and lower blood sugar for improved overall well-being.

  • Physical and emotional stress causes hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine to kick in, making you blood sugar rise. It is the flight-or-fight response your body had to combat danger. Complications from uncontrolled blood sugar include kidney problems, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, blindness and nerve damage. Minimizing stress maximizes your overall health.
  • Stress can lead to poor self-management of diabetes. You might skip a meal, forget insulin or fail to regularly use blood glucose meters to monitor your blood sugar levels. Stress leads to exhaustion that might make you want to skip exercise when that is actually what your body needs.
  • When you are under stress, exercise regularly and eat well. Check blood glucose levels more frequently to make sure they don’t get out of control. Drink plenty of calorie free fluids to avoid dehydration. Avoid negative habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and having too much caffeine.
  • If you are not physically fit, start with light exercise to de-stress. Talk a short walk and build up your pace and distance each day. Try meditation or deep breathing to unwind. Take up a form of stretching such as yoga or tai chi. Classes are often offered at gyms, libraries and community centers or you can purchase a DVD.
  • Progressive relaxation therapy is the practice of relaxing and tensing muscle groups in a certain sequence. This type of exercise therapy can reduce your blood sugar levels significantly in just a few weeks. Other therapies to consider include cognitive behavior therapy, biofeedback and talking to a counselor to alleviate stress. You can also workout with a physical trainer to develop a fitness routine that fits into your life.
  • Increasing your exercise gradually can reduce stress significantly. Exercise up to 60 minutes each day, five days a week. You will feel less stressed and your blood sugar will be lowered. Take control of your situation and be positive about what you can do. Regular exercise gives you a feeling of well-being. Mix up your exercise routine with aerobics, bicycling, weights, water exercises and your favorite sports. Even a little exercise goes a long way toward relieving stress.
  • Exercise makes you feel better because it pumps up your endorphins. They are feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain that can help you get rid of stress. Regular exercise also minimizes the symptoms associated with depression. It can even help you sleep better. Focusing on exercise gives you a sense of control and calmness.
  • Discuss exercise with your doctor. Choose exercise activities within your fitness level that you enjoy. This makes it easier to keep moving because you look forward to exercising.

Stress is often part of having diabetes. Lower your stress level by exercising regularly. Soon you will feel and look better, giving you a positive outlook on life and more confidence.