Diabetes: Exercise as Medicine
The body’s inability to work on glucose and make use of it when it is in the blood is an indication of a problem with metabolism which is known as diabetes. The pancreas produces the hormone, insulin, which helps take glucose from the bloodstream into the membrane of the cells so that it can be used as energy. The body of a type 1 diabetic can no longer produce insulin or the amount of insulin produced is insufficient for the process. For a type 2 diabetic, the cells have developed a resistance to insulin. In both cases the amount of glucose in the blood gradually increases until the blood glucose level is too high. To get the cells to be more insulin-sensitive, you need exercise. With the cells more sensitive to insulin, glucose can be quickly taken into the cells.
Exercise is necessary to prevent or treat diabetes. The heart can be strengthened by exercises which improve the condition of the heart and the blood vessels. Strengthening the heart is important as the risk of death from heart diseases for diabetics is many times more than that of non-diabetics. With strength training exercises, there is more muscular contractions which cause an increase the protein, GluT4; and this protein can move even more glucose to the cells of the muscles. With less glucose in the bloodstream, the requirement for insulin is lessened. When there is too big a quantity of insulin in the blood, the glucose level there drops to low to cause dangerous hypoglycemia. This can also lessen the ability to do exercise.
Diabetes and Exercise – Decide to Move – Video Guide
Aerobic exercises should be carried out about 5 days each week for at least 20 minutes but not more than 60 minutes each time is the advice of the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). The forcefulness and speed of the exercise should be carefully watched so that they use only between 40 - 70% of the body’s capability to perform.
Strength training ought to be done only two or three times a week with test days in between each session. Do about 9 exercises with approximately 12 repetitions per set, not exceeding 3 sets for each exercise. Stretching exercises ought to be included into the exercise program Flexibility exercises improve circulation which is important for diabetics who suffers from peripheral neuropathy in the feet. Static stretching should be done about three times a week with each stretch held for about 20 second.( See Exercise Prescriptions For Diabetes)
When blood glucose levels of type 1 diabetics exceed 240 mg/dL, and type 2 diabetics exceed 300 mg/dL before an exercise, the exercise should not be carried out because it can be harmful. People with proliferative retinopathy are told it is not advisable to do any tiring, intense exercise. Exercise can be harmful to people suffering from serious kidney disease, peripheral neuropathy in the lower extremities, infection and its resultant fever.
About an hour before an exercise, diabetics ought to eat so that their blood glucose levels will be ascending. Blood glucose levels ought to be tested before starting an exercise. If blood glucose levels are low, postpone the exercise. It is wise to have some kind of sugar at hand during an exercise, ready for any unexpected decrease in blood sugar. It is advisable to have a partner while exercising; someone who knows the dangers of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and is able to make the correct response to such occurances.
People who are type 2 diabetics for a period of at least 11 years, are more than 35 years of age, are type 1 diabetics for more than 15 years or have experienced microvascular diseases retinopathy or neuropathy ought to be given clearance by a medical practitioner before taking on any exercise program. For people with peripheral neuropathy, exercises with less impact like biking and swimming should be preferred to jogging and walking.