Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in which a person has too much glucose in their blood. As you may or may not know, glucose is the primary fuel for our bodies, and the process in which glucose is converted into energy occurs at a cellular level. This process is regulated by insulin, a hormone which is secreted by the pancreas. There are two types of Diabetes Mellitus – Type I and Type II. The difference between the two is seen at the molecular level.
In Type I diabetes mellitus, a person’s pancreas is not functioning properly and starts to lose its ability to secrete insulin. Normally, when a person eats, the pancreas secretes insulin to allow the glucose to begin to convert to energy. When a Type I person eats a meal, the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin (or any insulin), and the glucose cannot gain entry into the cells and just piles up in the blood. The results can be devastating and sometimes life-threatening. A Type I person can inject insulin into their bloodstream which can help replace that which is lacking, and they can lead a fairly normal life.
Type II people have a different condition. These people typically have normal insulin levels, but for a reason that medicine has yet to fully understand, their cells begin to stop responding to the insulin. Essentially, the glucose gets blocked from entering the cells and their blood glucose levels go up.
Research has indicated that chronic overeating, combined with a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of a person developing Type II diabetes mellitus. On the other hand, studies have shown that as little as a 5% reduction in weight is enough to prevent Type II diabetes mellitus. Along with keeping diabetes at bay, or reducing the risk of contracting it, exercise also helps the person avoid other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
Some benefits associated with exercise for the person with either Type I or Type II diabetes mellitus are: Increased exercise tolerance, increased glucose tolerance, increased maximal O2 consumption, increased muscle strength and mass / decreased body fat resulting in a raised metabolism, increased lipid profile, decreased blood pressure as well as an improved overall sense of well-being.
Exercise can help to control diabetes mellitus by burning more calories, which utilizes more glucose than if a person were sedentary. Exercise has been shown to increase the cell’s ability to utilize glucose, as well as increase the functionality of insulin. Increasing cardiovascular output also reduces blood pressure as stated above, which can help to alleviate the constriction of blood vessels, especially in the eye, brought on by diabetes mellitus. Exercise can also reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. This has been shown to help control diabetes mellitus. Also, lowering the triglycerides is important in maintaining a healthy weight, since excess glucose is stored in the body’s fat tissue as triglycerides.
So, now you know that if you have diabetes mellitus, you need to exercise. So, what kind of exercising should you do? The only type of exercise that is not safe for a diabetic to perform is heavy lifting or any other type of exercise that would cause a lot of straining. Walking, light jogging and swimming are great exercises for those with diabetes mellitus.
As always, stretching is recommended and the person may also engage in light weight lifting or yoga. Basically, get moving! A still, sedentary lifestyle can be a death sentence for a diabetic.
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