The Answer To “How Does Exercise Affect Diabetes?” and Other Vital Facts on Diabetes Revealed

How Does Exercise Affect Diabetes? This is only one of the most frequently-asked questions regarding diabetes, especially by those diabetics who are health-conscious.

To be able to answer this question, five interrelated concepts must first be made clear:
(1) the background of diabetes including its definition and types;
(2) a rundown of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors which contribute to such disorder;
(3) a brief pathophysiology to illustrate how diabetes affects the body;
(4) its complications, and;
(5) physiology of physical exercise.

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is defined as a specific type of metabolic disorder, a chronic case of hyperglycemia, which is characterized by elevated blood glucose level. There are three general classifications of DM, namely: type 1 – complete insulin insufficiency, type 2 – lack of glucose absorption, with varying degrees of insulin secretory defects, and lastly gestational diabetes which just occurs during pregnancy.

The main modifiable factor contributing to DM is the environment which includes viral or bacterial infection, diet, toxins, and stress. Listed among the non-modifiable factors are genetic susceptibility are pregnancy. Referring to the DM types as mentioned earlier, it appears that insulin is the sole link of the occurrence of diabetes.

How does insulin work? Actually, insulin is a hormone produced by islets of Langerhans which are located in the pancreas. It is responsible for glucose absorption from the blood vessels to the cells of different organs so that glucose can be converted to energy, and be utilized by these organs for proper body functioning.

Insufficient insulin (type 1) and insulin resistance (type 2) both result to excess glucose in the blood, thus diabetes. Prolonged, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications such as vascular diseases (retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, coronary, peripheral, and cerebral artery disease), diabetic ketoacidosis, skin ulcerations (amputation), chronic renal failure, and many more.

Now, how does exercise affect diabetes? Exercise, specifically physical exercise, is described as an organized activity involving slight, moderate, or strenuous movement or voluntary contraction of a particular or a group of muscles, that is rhythmic in nature.

It has the purpose of preventing atrophy, gaining or losing weight, body building or slimming, and most importantly improving and maintaining health. All these are achieved through increased metabolism brought about by exercising. A regular and specifically-programmed exercise will stimulate lung expansion and increased cardiac contractility therefore improving elasticity of cardiac muscles without straining it.

It also causes vasodilation or widening of the blood vessels therefore improving circulation. For people who have DM type 2, because of prolonged stress, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle, regular and moderate exercise helps by solving the underlying cause. Recommended exercise programs include regular walking, cycling, dancing, as well as some trainer-supervised workout sessions in the gym.

The same is applicable to people having DM Type 1 provided they take appropriate insulin dosage prior to working out. However, too much strenuous exercises can also be harmful to diabetics. It may cause excessive cell metabolism which may result to inadequate oxygen perfusion as manifested by pallor (paleness), shortness of breath, numbness of extremities, confusion, and fainting.

Combined with exercises being advised to diabetic persons as a preventive measure for complication, is a corresponding physical responsibility of not going too much due to the wrong perception of quicker improvement. Aside from exercises, eating healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, adequate hydration and rest, and appropriate intake of medications should be done regularly for better results.