Diabetes mellitus, also called simply diabetes, is a disease characterized by high glucose levels resulting from:
- either an inadequate production of insulin by pancreas (type 1 – accounts for 5-10% of cases)
- an inability of insulin to facilitate transport of glucose into the body cell (type 2- accounts for 90-95% of cases
- or both
Another type of diabetes is gestational diabetes developing in pregnant women and their babies, and usually disappears in both after delivery.
And do you know diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world?
India is known as Capital of Diabetes where about 50.9 million people suffer from diabetes.
So, considering these numbers and people living with diabetes and people on borderline of this disease, it is high time we need to increase awareness about it. Living with diabetes implies:
The aim is to raise awareness of this disease which affects them in many ways right from heart, blood vessels, kidney, liver to the nerves and skin and eyes and which make you go weak sometimes as the body cells are deficient of glucose which remains in blood!
This is not to instill fear or anxiety about the disease but to increase your awareness about it so that you get empowered to seek early and appropriate help. Thus, save yourself from adverse situation due to delayed treatment or prevention of the problem in first place.
It has long been recommended that the 3 cornerstones of diabetic therapy are medication, diet, and exercise (ADA 2008). Medications and diet are usually followed but what tends to get overlooked is..EXERCISE which plays important role in blood glucose management, improving metabolism and overall well-being.
Being a diabetes fitness instructor along with a rehabilitation professional (and having treated people suffering due to diabetes complications), I would like to bring to your notice that exercise is beneficial..not just to diabetics but prediabetics too!
For type 1 diabetics, major benefits of exercise are
-reduced risk of diseases related to heart (which is very important in type 1)
-increases insulin sensitivity (increases the effectiveness of whatever amount of insulin present in blood)
-lowering of fat levels.
For type 2 diabetics, exercise helps
-gain similar benefits as in type 1 along with control over blood glucose levels (ADA 2016).
How does exercise help?
In type 1 diabetes- exercise helps improve blood glucose control where there is lack of insulin to do so.
In type 2 diabetes-
Research reveals progressive resistance exercises (PRE) leads to reduction in glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c), especially for people with type 2 diabetes, thus help improve blood glucose control. A 1% decrease in HbA1c is associated with a 37% decrease in the risk of microvascular complications and a 21% decrease in the risk of death associated with diabetes.
Oral hypoglycemic (diabetes) medications can reduce HbA1c but they are accompanied with relatively high cost and side effects such as flatulence, nausea, diarrohea, abdominal pain and weight gain (IrvineC, TaylorNF 2009). Though these medications are essential, exercise (a much feasible part of the diabetes management plan) is emphasized to bring down the dosage of medications over the time.
Exercise not only helps with the problems associated with diabetes state but also helps improve mental health and immunity too (especially in these current circumstances of covid19), thus improving overall well-being which may also improve your social life.
The challenges related to blood glucose management vary with diabetes type, activity type, and presence of complications associated with diabetes. Therefore, exercise recommendations and precautions need to be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual. Supervised training is recommended in order to gain maximum benefits.
What’s coming up?
Stay tuned to know about exercise recommendations, tackling diabetic complications, self management strategies and much more information..
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Authored by- Dr Rajashree Lad (MPT, CAFST, CFMP, COMT) Consultant Orthopaedic Physiotherapist Certified Diabetes Fitness Instructor
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