Diabetes mellitus: an active lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle, stress, smoking, changes in the structure of nutrition (the ubiquity of fast food) – all these “joys of life” of a modern person are the main risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes. But, if type 1 diabetes is incurable, then type 2 diabetes can be quite successfully fought. With a proper diet, moderate physical activity, the risk of developing this disease is minimized.  

Even the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch wrote: “He who expects to ensure his health by being lazy, acts just as stupidly as a person who thinks in silence to improve his voice.” In the case of type 2 diabetes, the relationship between its prevention and lifestyle is much more pronounced than with most other socially significant diseases.

A study by American experts in the framework of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP, 2002) 1 showed that people with prediabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity. So, daily 30-minute exercise of medium intensity and weight loss by 5-10% reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Study participants over 60 were able to reduce this risk by 71%. 

It’s never too late!

It seemed so simple, but it is only at first glance. Forcing yourself to change your lifestyle, abandon your usual pleasures, and begin daily painstaking work on yourself – unfortunately, not everyone is capable of it.

It’s good for someone who has been at a sports school for at least a few years and who, in adulthood, has kept the need 2-3 times a week to cross-country, go skiing or just play volleyball or football on a sports ground in the yard. But if from childhood you are accustomed to relaxing with a book on the couch or watching a football match exclusively on the TV screen, do not despair; it’s not too late to join a healthy lifestyle at any age. The main thing is to want! 

To maintain good health, WHO recommends 30-minute workouts a day 3-4 times a week. In no case should you squat or pedal the exercise bike to exhaustion: it will do nothing but harm. Everything in moderation is the basic principle of a healthy lifestyle for diabetes.

The best option is to discuss these issues with your doctor, ask what kinds of sports are preferable for you, or, perhaps, for now, limit yourself to home gymnastics.

The secrets of effective workout

Before you start training, you need to know a few simple rules:

  1. It is necessary to limit yourself in high-calorie foods before and after training, but you can’t deal with an empty stomach. 2-3 hours before classes, as nutritionists recommend, it is worth eating foods containing complex carbohydrates and protein (buckwheat, vegetables, lean meat or cereal bread, low-fat cottage cheese, etc.). No fats!
  2. Half an hour before training, you can drink strong green tea. This will help the secretion of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which mobilize fat from fat cells, so that the body can use it as fuel. Thus, during training, you will burn more fat and less glucose, glycogen and amino acids.
  3. During training, be sure to drink water – a sip every 15-20 minutes.
  4. It must be remembered that there is no standard set of exercises for weight loss. You should choose exercises that you can do for a long time. Only then will it bring results.

The cure for stress

For people with type 1 diabetes , it’s equally important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is known that during sports, muscle mass develops, which means that the number of insulin receptors increases, which most favorably affects the quality of metabolic processes: glucose consumption and oxidation are increased, fats are more intensively consumed, protein metabolism is activated.  

In addition, the physical activity of the body while walking, running or swimming is an excellent workout for the heart and blood vessels. Accordingly, the risk of developing late complications of diabetes is reduced. An active lifestyle is also a great “cure” for stress and depression.

However, it must be remembered that muscle activity can affect blood glucose levels in different ways. Most often, during physical exertion, the sugar content in the blood decreases – due to the consumption of glucose by working muscles. Therefore, it is advisable to measure blood sugar before and after a workout in order to understand what effect muscle work has on your carbohydrate metabolism and, if necessary, adjust the dose of insulin you injected.

If, along with diabetes mellitus, you have diseases of the cardiovascular system, in addition to blood glucose, you need to control blood pressure and pulse (before starting physical activity, at breaks and at the end).  

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