March 20, 2011

Exercise – The Key to Managing Diabetes

I have said this before and will say it again – exercise. I have learned a few morsels to this in the last few years. Some have even told me to get lost as they are not medically able to exercise. Oh, really. A neighbor just reminded me of how false this is, except for a person that is a quadriplegic and others having some types of back injuries. Even another with a prosthetic limb said exercise is encouraged.

A neighbor is confined to a wheelchair with Type 2 diabetes and still exercises. He works very hard lifting five and ten pound or higher weights and once the snow is gone, I will see him out wheeling himself around several blocks in his wheelchair. He lost the use of his legs in an auto accident several years ago and has worked very diligently to build his muscles in his arms and body. He had an operation on one leg this winter and doctors are now hopeful that he may regain partial use of his left leg.

He has talked about this with me and he hopes that his right leg will be operated on next winter, and is hoping that the new procedure will give him full use. He did qualify for a powered chair, and has one for longer trips to the grocery store and other places, but he seldom uses it as he wants the exercise. I have seen him twice this winter and the second time he was standing on his left leg. Even that was an effort, but he wanted to show me the progress. The leg is still very stiff and it is difficult to stand on for lengthy periods, but he is working the leg and has a therapist in three days a week working with him.

So for my more sedentary friends, exercise generally is possible and for many people will require a doctors permission and developing a regimen with the doctors approval. Even lifting small weights can do good things for blood glucose control.

The main key is finding a type of exercise you enjoy and doing it can help. Many think running or jogging is the only exercise for them and if that works – great. Others have found that swimming is good for them and is something that they can do year round even here in the Midwest because the indoor pools are open. Others must use exercise equipment and if they do – good for them.

The idea is to be doing something that you enjoy, can do three to seven days a week and at varying times. Walking is always good for those that can't run or jog. Your management of diabetes will improve and you will not need to rely solely on nutrition (diet) to manage your blood glucose levels. Plus, if you want to reduce your chances of developing the complications of diabetes, exercise is an excellent tool.

I have to end this with an observation about what many people with diabetes seem to think is important. On one of the forums I participate on occasionally, one member was mourning the lost of carbs. In the responses to this, exercise was never mentioned. There were some excellent suggestions about cutting carbs and finding substitutes, but I am also surprised at the lack of nutritional advice as well.

This is an area of weakness in most forums and not just diabetes forums. A few forums have members that practice what they preach and will mention exercise without hesitation while others very seldom even think of exercise.

Most forums would be well advised to have a broad range of medical professionals, dietitians and nutritionists, and people that know exercise available to offer advice and answer questions.

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