Diabetes and Exercise

Written by willem van der Meijden | 12/06/2016

WP Physio | Physiotherapy

What Is Diabetes:

Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.

Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).

Type 2 Diabetes accounts to 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide.

What are the primary Causes of Type 2 Diabetes?

Being overweight, physically inactive and eating the wrong foods all contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.
We are able to control type 2 diabetes symptoms and prevent it by:
* Losing weight,
* Following a healthy diet,
* Doing plenty of exercise, and
* Monitoring our blood glucose levels.

Does exercise really help Diabetes?

The answer is a very definite YES.

Exercise can help to reduce your insulin requirements in several ways:
1. Increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
2. Enhances the more efficient use of blood glucose, thereby lowering it.
3. Reduces your cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, and in the long term can reduce the chance of heart disease or stroke.
4. Exercise with a well balanced diet, reduces overall body fat.
5. Improves your circulation, especially in the hands and feet, where people with diabetes can have problems.
6. Reduces stress levels, which in turn Lowers your glucose to more normal levels.

How Does Exercise Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

When exercising, the body needs extra energy or fuel (in the form of glucose) for the exercising muscles. Your muscles then use the body’s glucose for energy and this helps to lower blood sugar levels.

What are the best kinds of exercise?

As a guideline the most effective exercise for people with or without diabetes is aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. This will increase the heart rate, may cause a sweat and works the heart and circulatory system.

NOTE: Always start your exercise program slow for example walking for 10 minutes the first week and progress from there to a longer time and then to more strenuous exercising like jogging or cycling.

Aerobic exercises include:
* Walking
* Jogging or running
* Cycling
* Aerobics
* Swimming, any racquet sports and others.

REMEMBER exercising must be fun!

Precautions to take when exercising.

1. Always have quick-acting high carbohydrate on hand such as hard glucose sweets.
2. Drink enough fluids before, during and after exercise.
3. Monitoring your blood glucose before and after exercise.
4. Control blood glucose levels by keeping track of each exercise session’s duration,intensity and your blood glucose levels.
5. Learn to identify physical responses to hypoglycaemia (low sugar) immediately.
6. Avoid insulin injections one hour before exercising.
7. Reduce the dose of insulin when exercising.
8. Use non-exercising body sites for injection.
9. Exercise ideally at the same time each day.
10. Exercising with someone who knows you are a diabetic.
11. Be consistent with exercise and also with meal times and insulin injections.
12. Have a high carbohydrate snack about 15 minutes before exercising.
13. Avoid heavy exercise during peak insulin action.
14. Protect your feet by wearing good-fitting shoes and cotton socks.
15. Carry medical identification at all time.
16. If you feel an insulin reaction coming on while exercising, STOP IMMEDIATELY and have some glucose.

NOTE: it is important to know that intense exercise can temporarily increase your blood glucose levels right after you stop exercising. The body recognizes intense exercise as a stress and releases stress hormones that tell your body to increase available blood sugar to fuel your muscles. Start with an easy walk and build your way up to longer walks and than more intensive exercise activities.
It is very Important to Consult your physician and Physiotherapist before attempting strenuous exercise program to ensure that you are able to cope with the demands thereof.

Consult your nearest Physician and Physiotherapists before starting a new exercise regime.