Diabetes is a metabolic disorder stemming from abnormal pancreatic insulin production and/or diminished peripheral action of insulin. It can strike anyone at anytime. For example 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed in 2007 for adults aged 20 years and older. This disease can lead to many other health related complications including cardiovascular, renal, eye, musculoskeletal, nervous, urinary and many more.
For most of us, we begin our day thinking about everything we need to carry out. As a diabetic you do that as well as planning when you need to test your blood glucose, when to eat or snack, and when to take medication or insulin. If you are a diabetic who exercises you need to consider even more options because you want to avoid exercise at the peak of your medication , eat 1-2 hours before exercise, snack immediately before exercise, and check blood glucose just before exercise.
A person with Diabetes who follows a well-balanced exercise plan can accomplish the following:
- Improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control and decrease insulin requirements,
- Improve blood lipid profiles,
- Reduce blood pressure,
- Improve muscular strength and endurance through enhancing skeletal muscle mass,
- Improve flexibility and joint range of motion,
- Reduce body weight (in particular intra abdominal fat),
- Assist with decreasing the risk of diabetic complications.
If you are a diabetic who is struggling with your weight, your program must involve frequent exercise activities with complete adherence on a day-to-day basis for you to realize the true benefits of aerobic exercise. You can choose from a variety of activities, but I suggest choosing something you love to do and get out there. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a very basic target of 3-4 days per week of aerobic activity to achieve minimal benefits. If you are looking to lose a significant amount of weight, you could progress to 5 days per week or even daily, provided there is an proper mix of intensity and duration.
Before beginning any type of exercise program, please consult your physician and get some further guidance from a qualified Personal Trainer.
It has been stated that a minimal goal of 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity is enough to begin making positive changes in glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and potential changes in body weight. J. Eriksson has commented that the best training program for people with diabetes should be targeted to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and muscular endurance. This is best achieved by following a combination type program (involves cardio and resistance training) or a circuit style program. If you are wanting to encorporate resistance training into your weight loss program, the ACSM suggests 2 days per week and allowing 48 hours rest in between sessions. During those 48 hours you could be performing cardio sessions if your physician has recommended it.
The basic rule of thumb for weight loss is quite simple: you need to burn more calories than you consume. For a diabetic this can be challenging as you need to control your blood glucose and avoid episodes of hypoglycemia. Because of your health considerations, it would be in your best interest to have a few sessions with a qualified professional such as a Nutritionist or a Dietician who would be qualified to design some diet strategies for you.
Being Diabetic and overweight doesn’t have to be permanent. With consistent aerobic activity and resistance training paired with carefully monitored eating habits, anything is possible. Consistency will bring about the changes you desire!