Exercsie and Physiology Information

Training with Diabetes

Justin Opal



Exercise and Diabetes:
All diabetics can enjoy a healthier lifestyle and benefit from a proper exercise prescription. Before starting an exercise program diabetics should work with their physician to develop a complete lifestyle plan that takes into consideration nutrition, exercise, and medication. It is vital that we look at all factors that influence glucose regulation, and evaluate how they effect each other.

For individuals with insulin – dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), the main focus of exercise is to improved glucose regulation and reduce risk of heart disease. To reach these goals, the timing of exercise, amount of insulin, and the site of injection must all be considered when developing a complete plan. Establishing a regular pattern of diet and insulin dosage is essential for effective control of blood glucose levels. Exercise should be performed on a consistent schedule, the same time each day and within one hour of an appropriately balanced meal.

For individuals with non-insulin – dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), the main focus of exercise is initial weight loss and maintenance of a healthy body composition. Obesity is a main factor contributing to this type of diabetes. 80% of NIDDM diabetics are overweight. By taking control of body composition through proper exercise and nutrition NIDDM diabetics can reduce or eliminate the need for insulin medication.

Eight Exercise Guidelines for Diabetics
Monitor blood glucose levels before and after exercise. A diabetic athlete should not train if their blood glucose level is below 70 mg/dl or greater than 150 mg/dl.
Avoid injecting insulin into muscles that will be emphasized during exercise due to the increased risk that the insulin will be absorbed too quickly causing hypoglycemia.
All athletes need to take excellent care of their feet. This is especially true for diabetic athletes to prevent infection from cuts or blisters.
Monitor blood glucose levels frequently and work closely with a physician to determine the appropriate insulin dosage. Medication may change with improved health and reduced body fat percentage.
A carbohydrate source should be taken before and during prolonged exercise to reduce the chance of developing hypoglycemia.
Avoid training during peak insulin activity.
Exercise on a consistent schedule for improved glucose regulation.
Always have a fast acting carbohydrate source near, such as fruit juice, in case hypoglycemia develops during training.
Exercise Recommendation Example
Frequency: 4–7 sessions per week
Intensity: 65% to 70% of predicted maximum heart rate progressing to 70–80%
Duration: IDDM diabetics should start out at 30 to 40 min per session. NIDDM diabetics should start out at 40 to 60 min per session at a lower intensity (L.S.D.).
Type: Muscular Endurance ie: running, swimming, cycling

A Final Thought on Training With Diabetes
The most important tool you have to aid in training with diabetes is your mind. The power of the mind is virtually untapped by the medical community. Never adopt a self-defeating attitude. Yes you have to monitor your blood glucose, no you do not have to let that stand in the way of your goals. The focus of every athlete should be to maximize their own potential. Focus on the factors you have control of and let go of the ones you do not. Remember every excuse is a valid one if you believe it, but excuses are just excuses. If you really apply yourself you will see the only thing holding yourself back was yourself.

Good luck and have fun.

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