How to take care of your diabetes with physical exercise

How to take care of your diabetes with physical exercise
How to take care of your diabetes with physical exercise

Treatment for diabetes patients

One of the key treatments for managing diabetes is regular physical exercise. We explain how to adapt this practice to physical exercise, taking into account important aspects based on changes in temperature and diet. Normally, people with diabetes control (or at least try) their disease by taking medications that keep blood sugar levels in ranges that do not harm the body. In addition to drugs, diabetes treatment must be based on appropriate lifestyles, such as diet or regular physical exercise.

Why do physical exercise?

It is something known to all, and scientifically proven, that regular sports or physical exercise, even if it is of little intensity, has multiple benefits for the human body, from weight loss (with the reduction of the risk of diseases that leads) to the improvement in the quality of life or sleep of those who practice it.

When we suffer from a disease such as diabetes, this physical activity, which is so important for the general population, becomes essential for the control of the disease. So much so that there are people with diabetes who manage it exclusively with diet and exercise, or in whom this has made them reduce the dose of medications or insulin they needed before starting to practice it.

General tips for exercising.

Some recommendations, which actually start from common sense and are valid for anyone (with diabetes or not) are the following: It is important to choose well the time of day in which we are going to perform the exercise. Especially during the summer with its high temperatures, which in our area extend from May to September. The best thing to do is go for a run, walk, etc. in the early hours of the morning, which is when the weather is most suitable. If for work or vacation reasons this is not possible, it will have to be left for the end of the afternoon or even at night. The important thing is to avoid the central hours of the day when temperatures are often above thirty-five degrees Celsius.

It is essential to select well the type of activity we want to do, and in Extremadura, the spring and summer months, and even autumn, are ideal for water sports such as swimming, which in addition to its many known benefits, allows us to spend a bit overlooked the issue of schedules since the ambient temperature does not influence so much when practicing this sport. Other options are “indoor” exercises, for example in well-acclimatized gyms or pavilions.

We must also take into account the dietary aspects. Good hydration with water or isotonic drinks is vital before and after sports, especially in patients with diabetes, as we will see later. In addition, with diabetes, we must be careful about food according to the time of year On many occasions, these months of more pleasant temperatures we base our diet on vegetables to prepare salads, gazpachos, and fresher and more appetizing dishes on these dates. For this reason, we must be aware and try to maintain a balance in carbohydrate intake throughout the year. A decrease in its consumption added to the habitual practice of physical exercise can trigger easily avoidable hypoglycemia.

Aspects to take into account when exercising in people with diabetes:

Sugar control before exercise: as we have already mentioned, it is common and highly recommended to exercise in the last hours of the day. In addition, it is common in the months of good weather, to eat more “lightly”, which can often vary our glycemic or blood sugar figures throughout the day. That is why it is very important to have a check-up before going out to play sports. If at those times, our blood glucose is below one hundred milligrams per deciliter, we must take a supplement of about 10 or 20 grams of carbohydrates before going out (see table 1). When we talk about intense exercise, competitions, or high-level athletes, it is advisable to start from values ​​around 180 milligrams per deciliter.

Know the type of exercise that we are going to do: contrary to what we might think, the exercise of low or moderate intensity, and lasting an hour or more, such as fast walking, running, or swimming, has a greater hypoglycemic effect ( that is, it lowers blood sugar more) than intense exercises of short duration, such as doing “sprints” or lifting weights. This is so because in this type of practice

Medications: if our diabetes is controlled only with pills, there is practically no risk of hypoglycemia despite prolonged or intense physical exercise. On the other hand, patients with diabetes who also or exclusively inject insulin, either “fast”, “slow”, mixtures or combinations of these, should consult their doctor about guidelines and doses if they are going to exercise regularly. moderate physical.

Sugar control after exercise: During the hours after practicing physical activity, there is a considerable risk of hypoglycemia. As we have explained before, the first carbohydrates that the body uses when exercising are those present in the muscle and the liver. At the end of physical activity, these “spent” carbohydrates must be replaced, and for this, the body uses all the sugar available, including that of the blood, which increases the risk of having a “drop”. To avoid this, it is advisable to have a check-up after exercise. If the blood glucose is below 120 mg/dl, we should eat about 15 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, in some cases, and always under the supervision of your doctor, it is advisable to modify insulin doses in the moments after sports activity.

People with diabetes also tend to have other diseases or suffer from a complication of same diabetes; the heart, eyesight, foot problems … therefore, in addition to all these tips, if there are doubts or any disease or special condition that may influence the type of physical exercise to be practiced, it is best to go to the health center and get help and direct advice from the closest professionals.

You may also be interested in the blog entry on “ Preventing diabetes, is it possible? ” And if you practice high-level sports with diabetes you can expand the information in the article I have written for “Practice Diabetes: Diabetes and an athlete” With the collaboration of Andrés Simón Fuentes, Resident of Family and Community Medicine of the San Roque Health Center, Member of the Semergen Diabetes GT and of Rising