Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases where the body’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin or does not properly respond to insulin produced, resulting in high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. There are several different types of diabetes, but the most common forms are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both impact glucose levels, and if left untreated, can cause many complications.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30s. If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, their pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump, as well as manage their diet and exercise habits.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) typically develops after age 40, but has recently begun to appear with more frequency in children. If a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, their pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not produce enough or is not able to use it effectively.
Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes manage their disease through a combination of treatments, including diet control, exercise, self-monitoring of blood glucose, and in some cases, oral drugs or insulin.
There is also a misconception that the cause of diabetes is hereditary, and primarily occurs in families where there is someone else with diabetes.
Knowing the warning signs for type 1 diabetes could help save a life! Type 1 diabetes can often go undiagnosed in its early stages because the symptoms can be mistaken for more common illnesses, like the flu. Take notice if you or your loved one experiences the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness and lethargy
- Sugar in urine
- Sudden vision changes
- Increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
- Heavy, labored breathing
- Stupor or unconsciousness
Call your doctor immediately if one or more of these symptoms occurs in you or your loved one. It is extremely important to receive medical attention—misdiagnosis or leaving your condition untreated can have tragic consequences, including death.
Fitness and exercise are an integral part of diabetes management—it can help lower blood glucose in addition to many other benefits. You don’t have to run a marathon, just get regular exercise. Anything that gets you moving, like walking, dancing, gardening, or playing tennis or golf is great!
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for diabetes at this time. While there are ways to manage the effects of diabetes and diabetes complications, scientists have yet to find a cure.
People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise regularly for better blood sugar control and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The reason for this is that muscles which are working use more glucose than those that are resting.
Muscle movement leads to greater sugar uptake by muscle cells and lower blood sugar levels.
Additional benefits of exercise include a healthier heart, better weight control and stress management.
Frequent and regular physical exercise is recommended for people of all ages as it boosts the immune system and helps protect against conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Cancer and other major illnesses
- Type 2 diabetes
In fact, it is known to cut your risk of major chronic illnesses/diseases by up to 50% and reduce your risk of early death by up to 30%.
Other health benefits of exercising on a regular basis include:
- Improves mental health
- Boosts self-esteem/confidence
- Enhances sleep quality and energy levels
- Cuts risk of stress and depression
- Protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Cutting the grass, cleaning your home and other daily chores such as shopping don’t count towards your 150 minutes of weekly exercise as advances in technology have made these activities far less demanding on the body than for previous generations, who were active naturally more active through work and manual labour.
Are there any precautions I should take when it comes to exercise?
There are some exercise precautions which people with diabetes must take, however, when done safely, exercise is a valuable aid to optimal health.
Exercise precautions are designed to help people with diabetes avoid problems which can result from unwise exercise choices.
Hypoglycemia can occur if a person who is taking blood sugar lowering medication has:
- Eaten too little carbohydrate (fruit, milk, starch) relative to the exercise.
- Taken too much medication relative to the exercise
- Combined effect of food and medication imbalances relative to the exercise
Those who do not take diabetes medication do not need to take these precautions. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to stay well-hydrated.
Aerobic activities should be done 4-7 days a week and 20-60 minutes at 50-80% of Peak heart rate and monitor the intensities.
Aerobic activity at moderate intensity basically means exercising at a level that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat. This includes a multitude of sports. For example;
- Fast paced walking
- Light jogging
- Bike riding
- Playing doubles tennis or badminton
You can only do high intensity if the diabetic is managed.
As for Muscular strength needs increased repetitions and targeting weak muscles, low resistance and high repetitions.
I set, 10-15 reps, 40-60% IRM build to three sets of 8-10 IRM.
Increase ROM in order to improve balance and coordination, 2-3 times a week
Functional ADL is desired in order to increase confidence