Diabetes Mellitus is commonly known as Diabetes. It is a group of metabolic diseases which disrupts normal metabolism that is the process of converting food to glucose (energy) on a cellular level. It results when the body does not produce enough insulin or if it does, the body cells fail to effectively respond to insulin.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas (a large gland behind the stomach) in our body when we eat food. Its function is to help the body cells use sugar in the form of glucose for energy. This sugar in the blood comes from food and fluids (except water). When we eat food, the pancreas produces the required amount of insulin to stimulate the cells so that they absorb glucose from the blood and store it in the form of glycogen for growth and energy. In people with diabetes, the pancreas either produces insufficient or no insulin at all or if enough insulin is produced, the cells fail to respond appropriately. Thus excess glucose builds up in the blood.
A fasting blood glucose of 126 mg/dl or greater indicates diabetes.
The Three Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes: In this condition, the pancreas produces very little or no insulin at all. An individual with type 1 diabetes will have to inject insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes in which the pancreas produces enough insulin but for some reasons the body cells resist to respond to this insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Thus excess glucose builds up in the blood because the body is not able to use it as fuel.
Obese people are at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Extra fat around the mid-section (abdomen) increases the risk of developing resistance to insulin.
Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes develops during pregnancy. Usually, it disappears after childbirth but there are chances that a woman, who had gestational diabetes, develops type 2 diabetes sooner or later in life.
Diabetes affects almost every part of the body. It often leads to vision disturbances (blindness), cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessel disease), stroke (loss of brain function due to lack of oxygen-rich blood), kidney failure and nerve damage. It can complicate pregnancy and lead to birth defects in a child. The treatment for diabetes involves medication, healthy diet and regular exercise as advised by the doctor.
Also read: Lifestyle changes to keep diabetes away.
During exercise, the muscles use sugar from the blood for energy thus bringing down the blood sugar level. The amount of blood sugar level reduced depends upon the duration (how long) and intensity (how hard) of exercise. Regular exercise helps burn body fat in obese people and hence reduces their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A well-planned exercise regime lowers blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity. It reduces insulin resistance by helping the cells accept insulin efficiently. It improves blood circulation, strengthens heart and lungs, controls blood pressure and maintains a healthy weight. All this decreases the risk of diabetes-related complications.
Also read: Dealing with ups and down of diabetes.
Exercise Prescription for Diabetes Patients
Aerobic or Cardiovascular exercises
- Mode: Brisk Walking, Jogging, Cycling, Swimming and Group Aerobics
- Intensity: 50% to 80% of HRR (Heart Rate Reserve)
- Frequency: 3 to 7 days per week. Daily exercise will help more in controlling glucose levels.
- Duration: 20 to 60 minutes.
Train with weights for a minimum of 2 times a week with a gap of at least 48 hours between sessions. Lightweights with more repetitions are suggested. Start with 10 to 15 repetitions and then progress to 15 to 20 repetitions.
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