Diabetes and Exercise

03.12.06 / Me and My Diabetes / Author: colin

If you are diabetic, one of the first things you are told about is that you should do more exercise. ‘Its good for you’ they say – ‘it will help your diabetes’, but they don’t say much more than that.

I totally understand that it IS good for me, but it seemed to me that just ‘doing’ more exercise without understanding the process fully is perhaps missing out on a few opportunities.

I wanted to know ‘how’ exercise helps – ie what is the process. I wanted to know whether different types of exercise gave different benefits. I wanted to ‘fine tune’ my exercise to get the best results.

Impressed, huh?

I guess it would be more impressive if I had actually done something about it.

Well, now I have.

I have two dogs and they have been not getting anything like the number of walks that they should have, so 3 weeks ago I decided to put a few things to rights by taking them on a LONG walk every single day – and I have Smile

3.5 miles every single day, and boy what an effect it has had.

Firstly, a word of warning – if you are thinking of doing the same, make sure you take a source of glucose with you – I have had a couple of scares.

So here’s what happened.

I would inject my insulin, then eat my typical midday and walk the dogs.

If I didn’t do the walking, my blood sugar would return to normal between 2.5 to 3 hours after eating, so taking a walk straight after eating was the best and safest time to do it. 

My walk is not a casual stroll, but a fast ‘forced march’ walk over fields and up a reasonable sized hill. Strenuous enough to really have me breathing heavily and arriving home covered in sweat whatever the weather. It takes about 45 minutes.

I was alarmed to find that my blood sugar had dropped to dangerous levels before I arrived home! 

Wow – thats pretty bloody impressive. 

After doing a few days and finding it was a consistent reaction, I decided to try a little test. I deliberately missed my insulin injection, ate my meal, did the walk and then tested my blood sugar on return. It was lower than normal – ie lower than if I had injected insulin and not done the walk!

Now that was something to really make me sit up and take notice.

Having now done a little research it seems that the whole ‘diabetes and exercise’ subject is not fully understood yet. Some experts claim that exercise helps to make your body more receptive to the insulin that you may still be producing naturally, some claim that it makes your body produce more insulin, but there is one theory that intrigues me and seems a more likely explanation of the phenomenom.

The theory proposes that exercise allows your muscles to take up glucose WITHOUT insulin – ie there is another mechanism at work here. 

There is also a theory the ‘weight resistance’ exercise is better than aerobic exercise for achieving this.

I am going to start some more research on diabetes and exercise to see what I can discover – I’ll also do some more detailed tests using ‘yours truly’ as a guinea pig.

Watch this space. 

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