Precautions In Exercising For Diabetics

Exercise has an important place in the management of Diabetes. However, unregulated exercise can also precipitate problems for diabetic patients, especially by leading to hypoglycaemia, or lack of sugar. Exercise also interacts with the anti-glycaemia medication and their effect, and hence needs to be undertaken with due caution.
Precautions in Exercising for Diabetics
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Do you know that diabetic on insulin who has missed his meals, and indulges in prolonged unaccustomed exercise has a greater chance of dying than if he had never taken insulin ! Diabetics on regular treatment with insulin or Oral Anti-Hypoglycaemic Agents (OHA), need to know more about how and when to exercise than those not on such medication.

Diabetes & its dangers that one need to be aware

Diabetes is a disease that kills but not at once.

It is a chronic disease that leads to high blood glucose levels in blood, which is then lost in urine carrying a lot

of water with it and causing thirst. These are the basic problems caused by Diabetes, and none of them create an immediate danger to life. The real danger of diabetes arises from two sources. First are the long term complications of Diabetes, which over a period of five to twenty five years, effect almost every organ of the body, and can considerably shorten life span in addition to making it miserable. The second danger to life arises from short term complications like very high sugar levels in older persons that can lead to Hyperglycaemic Coma and even death, and Diabetic Keto Acidosis which can lead to coma in younger diabetics as well.

To prevent the long term complications, insulin or oral anti-diabetic agents like Glipizide or Metformin are prescribed by physicians at fixed times before or after meals, and patients are advised to stick to the routine. This is done to ensure that maximum insulin (or other anti-diabetic) levels in blood coincide with higher glucose levels after meals, and keep them under control.

Danger of hypoglycaemic coma

Unaccustomed prolonged exercise by a diabetic person can lead to a fall in glucose level, and the insulin taken can make it fall further, even to a below normal level, a condition called Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar, wherein the person may feel very uneasy, restless, start perspiring and may faint. A severe case of hypoglycaemia can go in coma, and if remained attended, may even die. That is why, for a diabetic person on insulin, it is better not to indulge in unaccustomed prolonged exercise, and if it becomes necessary, to skip the regular dose of

insulin (or anti-diabetic medicines) that day.

Role of exercise in life of a diabetic

This does not mean that there is no role of exercise in the life of a diabetic. In fact the very opposite is true. Regular controlled exercise at the appropriate hour can play a great role in managing Diabetes. The effect of exercise is similar to that of insulin as both reduce blood glucose levels.

Diabetes is of two types. Type – I Diabetes is associated with early onset, weight loss and very low insulin levels. Type – II Diabetes is associated with obesity, resistance to insulin and responsiveness to OHAs. In type II diabetes, regular exercise can also help in weight control, a primary requirement for managing this form of Diabetes. It is better to opt for aerobic exercises like jogging, brisk walk or tread-mill, and the best results are achieved with appropriate dieting associated with anti-diabetic medication.

Type of exercise preferable in diabetes

Exercise in moderate quantum and as per advice of the physician is always beneficial in Diabetes, and is a necessary part of life-style modifications with which patients with mild Diabetes are treated. Yoga is one form of exercise that is said to be beneficial, and certain postures (aasana) are said to stimulate the pancreas and increase insulin production and secretion in the body, thereby helping in controlling Diabetes. Dances are another form of exercise that can be useful, but it must be on a regular basis, and sudden overstraining should be avoided.

Diabetes & precautions during exercise

For any Diabetic person on insulin or anti-Diabetic medicines, if symptoms of hypoglycaemia like perspiration, restlessness and vomiting happen immediately after exercise, they should immediately be made to eat or drink food containing glucose or sweats. This should be done urgently without bothering for glucose level, as sudden fall in blood glucose is far more dangerous than a temporary rise in it.

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