After being diagnosed with Diabetes type 1, exercising became an essential part of my daily routine — not only because it is essential to stay in shape but also because exercising allows the body to become more sensitive to insulin’s action, which may help decrease the volume of insulin injected.
The reason why this happens is because when exercising we end up increasing cells’ activity. This means that cells start requiring a higher flux of energy — which comes in the form of glucose — in order to function properly. As a result, our cell membranes become more sensitive towards glucose, allowing an increased flow from the blood stream into the cell.
Since exercising requires a higher quantity of glucose in the interior of cells, the glucose level in the bloodstream decreases, which can be dangerous if the glucose level goes below 70mg/dL — a condition known as hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia symptoms include confusion, shaking, and it can also affect one’s vision. In more extreme cases, diabetics can lose consciousness or even go into a coma. One thing that experience has showed me is that there are simple things that diabetics can do to avoid any of these hypoglycemic situations, namely:
- controlling glucose levels before and after exercising.
- eating long lasting carbs such as bread some time before exercising, as these type of carbs take longer time to be processed by our body. Therefore, they provide a long lasting energy supply.
- ingesting around 15g of sugar before exercising — because your glucose needs will immeadiately increase, it is highly recommended to eat a small portion of sugar before the exercise, especially because sugar is easy and fast to digest.
- drink water.
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What kind of Exercise is Best for the Type 1 Diabetic?
This was also a very important question for me. What type of exercise should I engage in?
There are so many options that sometimes people can easily get confused. According to Endocrineweb.com, there are three main kinds of exercise, aerobic, strength and flexibility. The ideal exercise routine would be to combine all three of them. You should aim to have a good balance of all three. My personal suggestion is: “choose an activity that not only strengthens your body but also your confidence and that you enjoy doing.”
With an increasing focus on obesity as a world epidemic, diet, nutrition and exercise are all becoming part of a larger public health initiative to improve the overall health of average people. In the case of type 1 diabetics, these same initiatives are crucial for controlling the disease as well. More than simply staying fit, exercise directly contributes to a healthier lifestyle with type 1 diabetes and is highly recommended for your own Type 1 Diabetes Journey.