Diabetes and Exercise: Aerobics Benefits Type 1 Glucose Control
Regular aerobic exercise is part of most type 2 diabetes management plans since physical activity helps people regulate their blood sugar.
Now, a small research study suggests that physical activity improves glycemic control for those with type 1 diabetes as well.
Aerobic Results With Type 1
“Our results suggest that an educational program addressed to type 1 diabetes patients, and focusing on insulin injecting monitoring, diet, and exercise is highly advantageous,” said study coauthor, Dr. Livio Luzi.
The research, done by an American-Italian team, involved middle-aged patients with type 1 diabetes who use insulin pumps. When compared to those who were sedentary, the study participants engaged in aerobic activity showed:
- Improved metabolic control.
- Reduced insulin requirements.
- Fewer hyperglycemic events.
The investigators also noticed the exercise group was more responsible about monitoring glucose levels than the non-exercising participants.
Though larger studies are needed to verify these findings, the current research demonstrates that an exercise program in tandem with insulin therapy may provide improved type 1 glucose regulation.
Beginners: Start Slow, Keep Records
Many individuals with type 1 diabetes already enjoy regular aerobic workouts. For those considering, or initiating an exercise program it’s important to consult with a doctor or diabetes educator, and create a realistic fitness plan that may include the following tips:
- If not done already, maintain a daily record of your food intake, insulin dosing, blood sugar levels, and current physical activity. Then, changes in glucose levels related to ingested carbs, fats, and proteins, in combination with current activities, becomes apparent. This information will help predict glucose levels when aerobic exercise time or intensity is increased.
- The initial goal is to increase your heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes per day. Select aerobic exercises that suit your present state of fitness and skill level, and remember that aerobic exercise does not have to be vigorous. Mild to moderate benefits are reaped from activities such as gardening, golfing, yoga, table tennis, and walking.
- Start any new exercise regimen slowly to avoid sidelining injuries. Practicing patience out of the starting gate can prevent frustration down the road.
- Keep an exercise journal. A record of workouts and metabolic results over time will reveal how certain activities effect your glucose control more than others.
- Always exercise with someone who recognizes the signs of low blood sugar and knows how to treat it effectively. Choose an activity partner who works out at the same intensity level as yourself, so you are both challenged and motivated.
Further research may validate the glycemic perks of aerobics for type 1 diabetes. If not, there are many other benefits of aerobic exercise, such as improved muscle tone, bone strength, and weight maintenance, that we can all benefit from. Our bodies were designed to move, and it seems the more that we do so, the better.