Continuing on the discussion of the health benefits of physical activities, this post is about how exercise can help manage diabetes.
A major risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. While the mechanisms to how obesity contributes to diabetes are still being investigated, obesity accounts for the majority of the cases of type 2 diabetes and its rising prevalence across the globe.
One suggested link between obesity and diabetes is insulin resistance, the body’s reduced sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and it allows the cells to take in glucose from the bloodstream for energy. When the body does not respond to insulin normally, glucose is not taken in by the cells for fuels. A consequence is a higher than normal concentration of glucose in the blood. By dampening the body’s sensitivity to insulin, obesity increases the risk for insulin resistance. This is especially problematic when the fat is accumulated around the abdomen.
Doing exercise regularly contributes to a healthy body weight, prevents obesity and therefore reduces the risks for diabetes. When doing exercise, the muscle cells use glucose as an energy source. This, in turn, reduces the glucose levels in the blood. As the body gains muscle mass from physical activities, it becomes more efficient at using glucose for energy, keeping the blood glucose concentrations under control.
Although any type of physical activities is better than doing no exercise, we are recommending swimming as a diabetic friendly alternative. High blood glucose concentrations damage the blood vessels and reduce circulation. The effect is more acute in the extremities where the blood vessels are narrow, and poor blood circulation can lead to foot complications. Unlike walking and running that can sometimes lead to open sores, swimming improves blood flow and reduces the chances of cuts and blisters to the feet. The buoyancy of water also reduces the stress on the joints, and the chances of inflammation to the joint area and joint injuries when exercising.
In summary, physical activities contribute to a healthy body weight, improve insulin sensitivity and keep blood glucose levels within a target range.
DISCLAIMER: THE CONTENT AND INFORMATION IN THIS POST SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS PROFESSIONAL ADVICE OR REPLACE THE ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH.