and Physiology Information
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.
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.
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.
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: 47 sessions per week
Intensity: 65% to 70% of predicted maximum heart rate progressing to
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
Type: Muscular Endurance ie: running, swimming, cycling
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.
luck and have fun.