How Exercise Can Improve Diabetes

Physical exercise can be a great help when it comes to managing diabetes. Keep in mind however, that consulting a doctor is important before making any changes to your routine, diet or lifestyle in general.
How Exercise Can Improve Diabetes

Last update: 28 October, 2019

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that has been increasing in incidence. This disease is linked to a progressive increase in sedentary lifestyles. As a result, ministries of health across the globe have begun to focus on encouraging physical activity and healthy habits from childhood.

Diabetes: the pancreas

When we eat, the nutrients that reach the stomach are digested into smaller units. When it comes to carbohydrates, they’re divided into glucose molecules which are then passed to the intestines where they’re absorbed into the blood.

The pancreas is an organ that has two functions: endocrine and exocrine. Its exocrine function consists in the secretion of digestive enzymes to the first portions of the intestine. This is very important to the digestive process.

The endocrine function is for the production of hormones, essentially insulin and glucagon. Insulin is responsible for introducing blood glucose into different cells of the body. Glucose is then used by the cells as energy.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin or when the insulin it produces isn’t effective. This causes blood glucose levels to rise. This is what’s commonly known as ‘high blood sugar’.

Diabetes healthy diet

Types of diabetes

There are several types of diabetes. Some of them are genetic and very rare. In this article, we’ll focus on the most common types.

  • Type I diabetes: this type of diabetes is often genetic. People who have type I diabetes suffer from it from birth since their pancreas is unable to produce insulin.
  • Type II diabetes: this version of the disease is widespread nowadays. It’s often associated with poor eating habits and it’s caused by insulin insensitivity. When it comes to type II diabetes, the body becomes immune to insulin and finally the cells that produce this hormone begin to self-destruct. Although these patients don’t need insulin initially, if their pancreas suffers damage, they’ll need to add insulin to their treatment regimen.
  • Pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome: this is a clinical entity rather than a disease. It’s defined by clinical parameters such as high levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, high levels of maintained glucose, lower tolerance for exercise and central obesity (hips, abdomen, and buttocks). Although this situation is reversible, if changes are not made, it can end up causing type II diabetes.

Benefits of exercise

Regular exercise is beneficial when it comes to managing diabetes. These benefits are striking, especially during the early stages of type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In addition, exercise can also be beneficial for people suffering from type I diabetes.

Lower glucose and insulin levels

Physical exercise increases the body’s demand for glucose. This higher demands help to lower baseline glucose levels.

In addition, during physical exercise, cells may be able to utilize glucose without the use of insulin. This causes insulin levels to drop. As a result, the self-destruction of insulin-secreting pancreatic cells is prevented.

Symptom reduction

The decrease in baseline glucose levels may reduce the symptoms of diabetes. This occurs because high levels of glucose are directly linked to symptoms. Exercise may decrease or even prevent the symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetes and sports

Better tolerance to physical exercise

The body will become used to using glucose as a source of energy. Exercise also helps the body become more efficient using alternative energy sources. All of this will lead you to feel more and more comfortable doing physical exercise.

Improved aesthetics

Diabetes, pre-diabetes and type II diabetes are usually associated with sedentary lifestyles. Most of these patients have low muscle mass and excess fat. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly will provide multiple benefits as we mentioned above. It’ll also provide aesthetic improvements that you’ll be able to notice in a few months.

Exercise can also help to provide a reduction in BFP (body fat percentage) and increase muscle mass. As a result, exercise will help make the body look visually more attractive.

Given all of the above, there’s no doubt that physical exercise can be vital when it comes to managing this disease. Consult your health care professional and make an exercise plan that addresses your needs!

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