Exercise and Diabetes

Graeme Marsh
 


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Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing society today. The number of cases in developing countries is expected to rise by 170% over the next twenty years. In the U. K it is also a real problem. There are 1.35million people diagnosed with the disease, though the British Heart Foundation state the actual amount of people with diabetes may well be double that. This figure has risen considerably over recent years and if not addressed soon, it will continue to grow.

Most diabetics suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. It develops slowly, usually after the age of 40, and is strongly linked to family history and obesity. Diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to properly use the hormone Insulin, which controls the level of sugar in the blood. Symptoms of this can include tiredness, blurred vision, frequent urination and increased thirst and appetite. However these often vary between people and may not be noticeable. If untreated, this condition can lead to severe damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves and heart. Exercise can have many beneficial effects in both treating and preventing the onset of the disease. It can often result in improvements in blood sugar control, an improved response to insulin, reduction in body fat, a healthier heart, and better control of stress. However, the complicated and individual nature of diabetes makes exercise potentially dangerous if not closely monitored under the guidance of your doctor and a qualified personal trainer.

It is often possible to exercise at competitive levels with diabetes, though the condition affects each individual differently. Take the following precautions to stay safe.

  • Keep a sugary snack handy while exercising.

  • Wear proper footwear and check your feet regularly.

  • Wear identification (such as a medical bracelet).

  • Take care if exercising in the evening – this can cause blood sugar to drop dangerously overnight.

  • Check blood sugar before and after exercise – a snack may be needed if levels are low, or exercise avoided if levels are too high.

  • Swimming, cycling and rowing are generally well-tolerated forms of exercise.

    There are many different factors that can complicate exercise prescription, some more severe than others. However, almost everyone with diabetes can benefit from exercise. It can also help those at risk from the disease. Recent research has shown that those at high risk of diabetes through age, family history or being overweight, could reduce their risk by nearly 60% by taking part in regular moderate exercise.

    Remember, careful monitoring of the condition, and attention to diet and medication are essential for exercise to be taken safely and enjoyably. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting out, and take advice from a suitably qualified personal trainer.

    Graeme Marsh MSc MES is director of Aegis Training Ltd and one of the U. K's top fitness experts. He holds a Masters degree in the Science of Sports coaching and is certified as a personal trainer through ACSM and NASM. Graeme is also an AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist dealing with exercise for post-rehabilitation. He is a sought after writer and personal trainer currently based at his own private studio in the city of London. http://www.aegistraining.co.uk , http://www.strongerandfitter.blogspot.com

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