Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the body has trouble taking glucose from the blood and delivering it to the rest of the body so that it can be used as energy. This is because of a lack of, or an inability to use insulin (the hormone required to "escort" glucose from the blood to cells of the body).
There are two common types of diabetes
- Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, also known as Type 1
- Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or Type 2
Research says that every fourth diabetic in the world is an Indian. According to WHO projections, the 30 million to 33 million diabetics in India will go up to 40 million by 2010 and 74 million by 2025.
WHO has issued a warning that India will be the Diabetes capital of the world
How exercise can help?
Aerobic exercise increases insulin sensitivity and along with proper nutrition, helps restore normal glucose metabolism by decreasing body fat. Strength training (a.k.a. resistance or weight training) also decreases body fat by raising the metabolism. It's main benefit however, is increasing glucose uptake by the muscles and enhancing the ability to store glucose. Exercise can mean the difference between "medical management" and "lifestyle management" of Type 2 diabetes.
Who can exercise?
The American Diabetes Association recommends that anyone with diabetes have a thorough medical exam to see if there are risks for coronary artery disease and that blood glucose control is adequate before starting an exercise program. The doctor will usually advise exercise if the patient healthy.
Since many Type 2 diabetics are sedentary and overweight, low-impact exercise such as walking or stationary cycling is recommended, along with enough exercise to promote weight management. Their goal should be to exercise five times per week, up to 40 - 60 minutes per session at a moderate intensity. This level of exercise can be reached gradually, starting as low as 10 - 20 minutes a few times a week for a person who has never exercised. Remember to increase only one factor at a time (days per week, length of session, or intensity).
For those who have no other complications, strength training is safe and can provide many benefits. It can increase lean mass which will help in weight management, as well as increase glucose uptake by the muscles and help the body to store glucose. Strength training programs are designed around a person’s needs, desires, level of conditioning and time factors.
A basic recommendation is to train a minimum of two times per week, doing 8 - 12 repetitions per set of 8 - 10 exercises targeting major muscle groups. Safety precautions must be followed for the exercising diabetic. A personal trainer can help to set up a program for the Type 2 diabetic and help them to exercise correctly. With your doctor's permission, exercise bands are a safe, simple and effective way to exercise at home.
Exercise guidelines for the diabetic
- Let your body get used to exercising.
- Start out easy and gradually increase intensity and duration.
- Warm up and cool down for 5 - 10 minutes each, by exercising at a low intensity before and after your moderate intensity workout. Sufficient warm up and cool down will help to prevent heart problems as well as make you less susceptible to injury.
- Don't exercise outdoors on very hot or humid days. You can get heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- In warm weather, dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting cotton clothing or special fabrics that promote heat loss. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen.
- To prevent dehydration, drink a cup of cold water before and after you exercise.
- If you exercise longer than 30 minutes or are sweating a lot, drink water during your workout.
- Know the warning signs of heart problems: chest, arm or jaw pain, nausea, dizziness or fainting (also signs of heat exhaustion or hypoglycemia), unusual shortness of breath during exercise, irregular pulse.
- Exercise, along with good nutrition, helps decrease body fat, which helps normalize glucose metabolism. Also, exercise helps reduce coronary risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
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