The diagnosis of diabetes is dependent on blood glucose levels (i.e., casual plasma glucose level greater than 200 mg/dl; fasting plasma glucose level greater than 126 mg/dl). One has to be very careful about exercising while having diabetes as blood sugar levels can fluctuate dramatically during periods of intense physical activities. The body of a person with diabetes is not able to readily metabolize sugar because the hormone insulin cannot efficiently transport glucose (blood sugar) into the cells of the body for energy. Either the pancreas cannot produce adequate insulin (Type-1 diabetes) or the cells cannot utilize it properly (Type-2 diabetes). Most people with diabetes have the latter issue in which their pancreas produces enough insulin but due to being overweight or obese, their body's cells have become less insulin sensitive.
Resistance (weight) training, which promotes increased muscle mass, can lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. The latest findings recently published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered a correlation with increased muscle mass and decreased insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes. Researchers found that for every 10% increase in skeletal muscle index (ratio of muscle mass to total body weight), there is an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% reduction in prediabetes. Prediabetes is the beginning stage of diabetes when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Even if you already have type-2 diabetes, resistance training may play a role in helping to better use the insulin produced. The reason for this is because muscle is a very insulin-sensitive tissue within the body. The more muscle you have, the more glucose your body can metabolize because of increased insulin sensitivity. Besides increasing your muscle mass, an increase in chromium and fiber intake will also help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is an insidious disease as the symptoms run the gamut (e.g., blurred vision, excessive thirst, tremors, extremity numbness, frequent urination, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, extreme hunger, anxiousness, headaches, etc.) but it can be treated or even prevented by proper exercise. Recent research in Neurology has indicated that type-2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. A sedentary lifestyle is certainly a risk factor for diabetes due to the increased fat storage and decreased muscle mass that occurs. Some of the benefits of exercise with regard to diabetes include:
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
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I'm a personal trainer who loves to help others fulfill their health and fitness goals. I consider myself a bodybuilder in that I live the lifestyle of eating healthy food, working out regularly, and sculpting my body.