Exercising With Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes: type I diabetes, type II diabetes and gestational diabetes. Each form shares some defect in relation to insulin. Insulin affects the way the body uses food for fuel and is an essential hormone that regulates glucose, fat and protein metabolism.

Carbohydrate, or glucose, is the fuel most readily available for uses by the cells and is the body’s main energy source. In people with diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin or the body’s cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.

Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to burn the fuel of glucose it gets from food for energy. Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to produce or use its own insulin. This results in abnormally high levels of sugar and acetone, a liquid found in the blood when fats and glucose aren’t properly oxidized. In addition to high blood pressure levels, it can damage ones eyes, nerves and kidneys. Damage to nerves can promote foot sores, problems with digestion and blood vessels, which results in an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

There is no cure for diabetes although one can control it through various treatments. In order to control diabetes, a person must measure their blood sugar levels. This can be done through a procedure called blood-glucose monitoring; this allows the diabetic to determine if their blood sugar ranges are too high (hyperglycemia), too low (hypoglycemia), or just right.

Common symptoms of diabetes include blurred vision, unusual thirst, frequent urination, drowsiness, insatiable hunger, weakness, irritability and nausea. The main risk of diabetes lies in the long-term complications such as retinopathy (eye damage), joint alterations and kidney disease, just to name a few.

Research indicates that exercise shows improvement in glucose tolerance and overall metabolism, improvement in blood glucose control, cholesterol and strength. Pointing out these facts to a diabetic may help change his or her way of thinking about making diet and exercise a priority in his or her life.

The beginning workloads for a diabetic as suggested by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is to start with exercise that the person can sustain with reasonable comfort and increase the duration and intensity of exercise according to their tolerance.

According the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), glucose levels less than 100 or greater than 300 mg/dl prior to exercise is not advised until food or insulin is administered. Any outward signs of blisters on hands or feet, cardiac problems, high lipid levels, excessive amounts of weights lifted (less than 50 percent of estimated maximal voluntary contraction) for persons with overt complications, and in addition, performing Valsalva’s Maneuver while training is also not advised.

A diabetic should try to fit regular exercise into his or her daily routine at about the same time each day, recording blood sugar levels using a glucose monitor before and after each exercise session to ensure blood glucose levels are within normal limits, they should have available some form of glucose solution (candy, juice) and know when to use it (any signs of dizziness, faint, drunk-like state).

A resistance exercise program should be a gradual one. Lower starting levels may be appropriate depending on his or her tolerance. Light to moderate weights can help improve muscle tone, posture and also improve blood sugar control. Aerobic training should consist of low to moderate impact to guard against injury to lower legs and feet. A mild walking program, starting at five minutes a day and slowly progressing each week, would be beneficial. Diabetes must be under control prior to beginning any exercise regimen.

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