Time and again I've been told by an elderly person with T1DM that he can't exercise because he
1 Has joint problems 1 Has chest pain 1 Has no time 1 Doesn't enjoy it 1 Can't catch his breath
These are some of the reasons that an exercise program must be developed at a young age and maintained throughout life. The description of the Joslin Medal Winners in the sidebar earlier in this chapter shows that the ones who lived longest were the ones who exercised for the longest period of their lives.
At the very least, walk for 30 minutes every day if possible. If you have any problems with balance, using a stationary cycle or doing the exercise in a pool will avoid the risk of a fall. If you have joint problems but are otherwise healthy, use of an elliptical trainer is a good idea because this device gives a good workout but doesn't cause trauma to joints.
In addition to movement exercise, lifting light weights has been shown to be very beneficial to the elderly. They regain strength in their muscles, improve their balance, and increase their stamina. See Chapter 9 for illustrations of seven low-impact exercises you can do with weights to build up your upper body.
There are some risks to exercise in the elderly with T1DM, especially those just starting to get moving. (The risks usually aren't present when the person has been exercising for decades.) Risks include:
1 Hemorrhage of the vitreous of the eye 1 High blood glucose after strenuous exercise 1 Hypoglycemia 1 Increased protein in the urine 1 Possible heart disease 1 Retinal detachment 1 Soft tissue and joint injury
You should have a thorough examination by a cardiologist if you're 50 or older and are just starting to exercise vigorously. Also, if you haven't had an eye exam within the past year, get one before you start exercise.
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All you need is a proper diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise and you'll be fine. Ever heard those words from your doctor? If that's all heshe recommends then you're missing out an important ingredient for health that he's not telling you. Fact is that you can adhere to the strictest diet, watch everything you eat and get the exercise of amarathon runner and still come down with diabetic complications. Diet, exercise and standard drug treatments simply aren't enough to help keep your diabetes under control.