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Keep Moving: Diabetics Benefit from Regular Exercise

  • Category: Blog, News, Pulse
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  • Written By: Deborah Stanuch
Keep Moving: Diabetics Benefit from Regular Exercise

Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that affects 37.3 million U.S. citizens, or over 11% of the country’s population, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, 8.5 million people remain undiagnosed, and 96 million adults are considered diabetic. Locally, in Baxter and Marion counties, 10% of the total population and 25% of adults over the age of 65 are diagnosed as diabetic, according to Jodi Bodenhamer, APRN, CDCES, Reppell Diabetes Education Coordinator.

Diabetes comes in two forms. Type 1, formerly called “juvenile onset” or “insulin dependent” diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder with absolute insulin deficiency. One out of 10 diabetics have Type 1, which is usually diagnosed before the age of 20. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder affecting 9 out of 10 diabetics. Formerly called “adult onset” or “non-insulin dependent,” it is usually diagnosed after the age of 40. “People can die from diabetes,” said Bodenhamer. “The five biggest risks from both types of diabetes include heart attack, stroke, amputation, kidney failure and blindness. But we can teach patients self-management and give them the tools they need to control their disease, starting with diet and exercise. All diabetes patients can benefit from exercise, even children.”

“I often see diabetics, especially newly diagnosed diabetics, come to the gym because they heard exercise can help them control and lower blood sugar levels,” said Jonny Harvey, Occupational Health Coordinator at Baxter Regional. “Exercise can help lower and control blood sugar levels by increasing insulin and glucose usage. The complicated part for diabetics is, while exercise will bring down blood sugar, when you took your medication, last ate, what and when you ate can affect how your body and blood sugars will react.“ It’s important to work with a professional trainer before beginning an exercise program. The trainer needs to know, is the diabetic’s blood sugar under control? Do they regularly monitor their blood sugars? What other health conditions do they have? This all needs to be considered with a diabetic client’s exercise program. ”Diabetics are prone to foot infections and need to care for their feet before and following exercise, said Harvey, who cautions against activities that increase the risk of injury.

He also stresses the importance of wearing an ID, especially when exercising and to make your trainer aware of your condition. He suggests letting others you exercise with know of your condition, what to watch for and what to do in the event you have a diabetic episode. “Lots of great athletes have been diabetics,” said Harvey. He mentioned professional football players like Jay Cutler, Jake Byrne and Noah Gray; baseball players Ron Santo, James “Catfish” Hunter and Jackie Robinson; and race car drivers Jamie Dick and Conor Daly. “The exercise guidelines are mostly the same for diabetics as non-diabetics, there just needs to be adjustments for health conditions,” said Harvey.

“Follow the guidelines of 30 minutes of moderate, aerobic activity five days a week. Start slow, do stretch exercises, light weight lifting and body resistance. Just do some physical activity to keep diabetes under control. “Proper diet and exercise can enable a diabetic who is not insulin dependent to decrease or eliminate medications completely,” according to Harvey. “A poor diet and lack of exercise can cause problems with insulin sensitivity, and diabetics are often taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications. “For diabetics and non-diabetics, proper diet and exercise causes weight loss. When someone loses weight and is able to maintain a healthy weight, they eliminate or reduce their need for many medications.”