Diabetes and Exercise
Several years ago, Tommy Johnson, at age of 28, looked at his mirror image in his home in Phoenix and wondered what was happening to his body, as he watched.
Hospitalized in Phoenix for several days of testing, Johnson was found to have Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes. He didnt even have the time to go through denial, depression or any of the other classic emotional symptoms, says Johnson.
He had training camp coming up, and like hundreds of professional football players, his job was on the line, linked exactly to his performance in training camp.
Johnson relates that he just listened to what the doctor had to say about ways in which to keep his blood sugar levels, as close to normal as possible.
There are two major types of diabetes. Type II or non-insulin-dependent diabetes represents about 90% o f all cases of diabetes. However Type I diabetes is the more severe form of the disease. This is a genetically-based chronic endocrine disorder of unknown cause, that affects the bodys ability to manufacture and utilize insulin, the hormone needed to break down sugars and starches into blood sugar (glucose), the bodys major energy source.
As a result, sugar levels in the blood become too high. The cells of the pancreas (the small insulin-producing organ located behind the stomach) dont function properly, making it difficult to metabolize food. Since the glucose cant be utilized, the levels raise dangerously; daily insulin injections are needed in order to live. This differs from Type Ii diabetes, where insulin is produced but the amount is insufficient or else the cells cant utilize it properly.
There are risks associated with exercise for the Type I, insulin-dependent diabetic such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) but if an athlete learns to control changing glucose levels by adjusting insulin levels and snacking on sugary, or slowly absorbed carbohydrates when needed, and then its possible to exercise quite vigorously.
Other than insulin or diet, exercise is the most important factor in helping diabetics maintains proper blood sugar levels.
Athletes with Type I diabetes can compete in any sport as long as they closely monitor their blood sugar levels.
1. Exercise regularly, preferably at the same time each day to help you determine and stabilize your insulin and food requirements.
2. Exercise with someone else. This person should know that you have diabetes, be aware of the signs of hypoglycemia (confusion, weakness, unconsciousness, convulsions), and know how to respond in an emergency.
3. Dont inject insulin into the muscle you will be exercising, or the insulin will be mobilized faster, and you will become hypoglycemic.
4. Most often, sports-active diabetics should keep their insulin dosage the same, and eat more food. If you repeatedly become hypoglycemic during or after exercise (despite increased food intake) talk to your physician about reducing your insulin.
5. To best determine our food/ insulin needs, you should monitor your blood glucose during training (for example, between laps of swimming or running). Also, you may have to re-check these needs when the weather changes from hot to cold.
6. Always exercise after eating, when your blood sugar is on the rise. Dont start to exercise with low blood sugar; eat a snack first.
7. Always carry sugar, in some form, with you. Always have coins with you for food from a vending machine or an emergency phone call.
8. During long-term exercise, plan to constantly replace glucose supplies, at regular intervals.
9. On an extra-long hike or bike ride, eat six small meals containing both carbohydrate and protein (the protein is for sustained energy). Be over-prepared with extra food in case you are unexpectedly delayed.
10. Since exercise has a lingering effect, you should eat more than usual after you finish exercising. Other wise, you may become hypoglycemic that night, or even the next day.
Diabetes and Exercise