By: Arlo Taylor
It is common to hear people claim that exercise is the miracle cure for all diseases (at the very least for preventing diseases). Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset diabetes is a chronic condition that affects for the body processes blood sugar, also known as glucose. Diabetes patients usually have problems with cells using insulin properly. According to The American Diabetes Association, in 2012, over 29 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes.
Approximately another 1.4 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year.1 For these diabetes patients, besides a well monitored meal plan and medication, what else is a great way to treat their diabetes? The answer is exercise! Like mentioned in the first sentence, it is commonly known that exercise relieves symptoms, increases overall quality of life, and even outright cures diseases! The best part of exercise is that it is pretty much free!
What makes exercise great for diabetes? Exercise causes your muscles to use the glucose in the blood, liver, etc. which lowers the blood sugar level. It also increases fitness levels and reduces the risk of heart disease. A study done by Bakhshalipour, Vahid; Sareshkeh, Siavish Khodaparast; Moghadam, Majid Keramati; and Kazemi, Maryam Falah shows that with moderate exercising, inactive type 2 diabetes patients improved their sleeping patterns, body mass index, and weight.2 This study does not talk about exercise and blood glucose control, but it still shows how much the diabetes patient’s life improved from just moderate exercise. Another study done by Ji-Hye, Park and Young-Eun, Lee concluded that with a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight training, the risk of a glycemic control failure lowered significantly.3 For diabetes patients, exercising really reduces the risk for any blood sugar problems.
With all of these benefits, there are some risks that should be considered before exercising. Too high or too low of a blood sugar level can complicate diabetes problems in patients if they exercise. Mayo Clinic has a general exercise guideline relative to the blood sugar level of diabetes patients. For patients with blood sugar levels lower than 100 mg/dL, it is best to eat a carbohydrate snack before exercise so that the blood sugar level goes up. Levels between 100 and 250 mg/dL is ideal for diabetes patients to exercise. Anything above 250 mg/dL is a caution zone because the blood sugar levels may be too high. There is also a risk for high ketones, which indicates that the body does not have enough insulin to regulate blood sugar properly. This leads to exercise complications.4
The knowledge that exercising improves the human body is very obvious to most people. The problem is that with all these resources and common knowledge, health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. still exists. There is probably at least one person in most families that have health problems due to lack of a healthy diet and/or exercise. Maybe a close friend or a loved one has diabetes or other health problems. It would be great to help motivate them into improving their lifestyle. As nutrition students, it is a duty to spread validated knowledge to the community and to remind readers that even with easy access to a superfluous amount of information, many people are clueless about healthy eating and exercising. The best part of exercise is that one’s imagination is their limit and in most cases, it doesn’t cost a thing to exercise. Give friends and family with health problems such as diabetes a sample meal plan or exercise program so that they can be led to the right path to healthiness.
- The American Diabetes Association Staff. Statistics About Diabetes: Overall Numbers, Diabetes and Prediabetes. The American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/. Last Edited April 1st, 2016. Accessed: August 22nd, 2016.
- Bakhshalipour, Vahid; Sareshkeh, Siavish Khodaparast; Moghadam, Majid Keramati; and Kazemi, Maryam Falah. The Effect of A Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Training Program on The Sleep Quality, BMI, and Weight In Non-Active People With Type 2 Diabetes. Sport Scientific & Practical Aspects. Jun2016, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p13 6p.
- Ji-Hye, Park and Young-Eun, Lee. Effects of Exercise on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Koreans: The Fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V). Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2015, Vol. 27 Issue 11, p3559 6p.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Diabetes and Exercise: When to Monitor your Blood Sugar. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-and-exercise. Published: December 1st, 2015. Accessed: August 22nd, 2016.