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Exercising with Diabetes

ecercise over 50 imageBy Anne Elliott

Serious health conditions can hit at any age and when they do, they are invariably life changing. However, with many of them the problem is that as soon as a condition is diagnosed the patient can go into a kind of psychological lock down. From the body’s point of view, it’s pretty sensible; it wants to protect itself but this means it can misinterpret very sound advice and practice.

One such case in point is being diagnosed with Diabetes. Many adults who are told they have the condition closed the gates and hunker down for the long term being too scared to take part in many activities in case it makes matter worse. This is far from the truth.

It’s all to do with insulin. Food we eat is broken down in the gut and converted into useful nutrients. Carbohydrates become glucose and are put into the bloodstream. Insulin is created in the pancreas and also enters the bloodstream with the intention to transport the glucose to muscle cells where it can be converted into energy. Insulin attaches itself to receptors on the outside of the cell and acts as a key to open a door to allow the glucose into the cell.

Type 1 is caused when the pancreas makes little or no insulin and therefore the shortfall has to be injected on a regular basis. If you have Type 1 Diabetes, you are likely to have had it for most of your life and have probably learned how to manage it very well.

Type 2 Diabetes is different. It is common when fat is accumulated around the waist area. Diet and sedentary lifestyle force the pancreas into constant over-production of insulin. The pancreas’ ability to do this ‘wears out’. The blood is saturated with glucose and the ‘key’ mechanism in the cell becomes faulty so glucose is unable to enter the cells. They have become ‘insulin resistant’

The best way to tackle Type 2 (and your doctor will agree with me) is that the condition can be significantly improved by a change in lifestyle practices. Diet needs to change. Cut down on highly processed simple carbohydrates (brown food!) and make sure every meal is full of different colours. Also reduce the amount. Secondly, start exercising. There are now numerous studies to show regular, consistent, moderate exercise can help reduce the severity of this condition.

Key factors to take into account when exewrcising with diabetes

Whether you have Type 1 or 2 did you know that you can exercise the same as any normal healthy person as long as you take into account a few key factors,

For Type 1:

• your insulin administration is managed well by you

• wear insulin dependent identification whilst exercising

• don’t inject into a muscle immediately before exercise

• adjust your carbohydrate intake or insulin dosage before exercise (for 1 hr of exercise you will need an additional 15g of CHO either before or after)

For Type 1 & 2

• avoid extremes of temperature and late night exercise

• keep your exercise consistent and predictable

• you should eat a good varied colourful diet

• start exercising gently and progressively, increasing intensity when you feel ready

• You should do both cardio-vascular and resistance training as part of your fitness programme for best results.

• Move, Move, Move, and move some more.

Don’t let your condition stop you enjoying life and getting healthy in fact use it as a good reason to start!




ANNE ELLIOTT is 52. She has a Personal Training Practice that specialises in working with middle-aged clients and their associated health problems. She lectures in Sports Science at Middlesex University, is an ABAE boxing referee, is registered with REPS at Level 4 and is undertaking a Doctorate in exercise in middle age. Anne appears regularly in the media talking about her specialisation - exercise in middle age.

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  1. twitter_ZestHomeFitness

    June 11, 2013

    Anne, firstly well done on writing one the clearest and most concise explanations of diabetes that I have come across.

    Secondly, research has shown that thousands of people in the UK have diabetes (a serious and even life-threatening illness) but don’t even know it(!), so raising awareness of it in this way can only do good.

    Worryingly there is an epidemic of physical inactivity in the UK at the moment with very few people doing the medically-recommended 150 minutes of light-aerobic, physical activity every week. In order to put off physical and mental decline for as long as possible, it is important that people find ways to squeeze consistent, physical activity into their daily routines, not as an interruption to their lives but as an integral part of it.

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