This post is done in partnership with Accu-chek.
For years it was believed that if a person contracted or inherited either type-2 or type-1 diabetes, their ability to exercise and perform strenuous physical activity would be limited. Fortunately, new research indicates that this is not necessarily the case.
Far from worsening your diabetes or leaving you with an injury, physical exercise under the right circumstances actually can improve your condition. The key to balancing the effects of diabetes through physical exercise comes from closely understanding how your body works and knowing how to strike the right balance, as will be seen below.
Running and Exercise: Type-2 Sufferers
Many diabetics with type-2 diabetes suffer from high levels of intra-abdominal obesity and insulin resistance. What this means is that the bodies of type-2 sufferers respond less effectively to the production of insulin in their bodies.
Out of fear that exercise will only exacerbate their predicament, many type-2 sufferers avoid physical exercise and as a result their condition worsens with increased weight gain and physical inactivity.
However, new research has shown that exercise may actually help type-2 sufferers with their insulin resistance. Data suggests that when type-2 sufferers perform physical exercise such as running, jogging and other aerobic exercises, their bodies respond more acutely to the presence of insulin.
In other words, the insulin naturally produced in their bodies begins to operate more like insulin produced in people who do not suffer from diabetes.
The positive effect of exercise on the insulin resistance of type-2 sufferers, combined with the weight loss that comes from consistent physical exercise, has lead doctors to speculate that type-2 sufferers who exercise may have less or even no need for insulin injections in their later life.
Distinct from type-2 sufferers of diabetes, type-1 sufferers usually inherit diabetes for genetic reasons and have little no control over having it. Most type-1 sufferers require regular insulin injections for their entire lives. In the case of type-1 sufferers, the issue is not that they are resistant to insulin but that their body actually destroys the insulin because it fails to identify it correctly.
Out of fear that exercise might make their condition worse, type-1 sufferers often shy away from physically straining exercise. However, as with type-2 sufferers, it is still possible for type-1 sufferers to enjoy physically active and rigorous lives.
There have been numerous documented cases of type-1 sufferers participating in large-scale marathons and iron man competitions, and completing them without any major difficulties.
Monitoring Sugar Levels and Eating Healthily
The most important thing to bear in mind for both types 1 and 2 sufferers wanting to exercise, particularly type-1 sufferers, is that they regularly monitor their blood sugar levels and carry proper medical equipment.
Both sufferers must ensure they adhere to a healthy diet, and focus mainly on eating regular vegetable servings, lean meat portions and moderate amounts of carbohydrates.
When performing exercise, sufferers should bring energy capsules and food bars with them so they can restore glucose and sugar levels that become depleted during exercise.
Most importantly, people with both types of diabetes need to regularly monitor and record their blood sugar levels, particularly at certain times of the day (i.e. before and after medication, eating, exercise, sleep etc.). In this way they can better understand their bodies and with help from their doctors work out how to exercise safely and enjoyably.
Brendon Farraway is a sports-science student at the University of Sydney who wants diabetics to be fully aware of the range of options they face when looking into starting an exercise regime.
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