Exercising to Improve Control of Type Diabetes

The Big Diabetes Lie

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In This Chapter

^ Getting a grip on the role of exercise in type 1 diabetes ^ Planning for safe exercise ^ Sticking to the program

The fact that your child has type 1 diabetes (also known as T1DM) just makes it more important that he develops a fitness program that's part of his everyday activities, like eating and sleeping. Chapter 6 draws your attention to world-class athletes who have T1DM, and although the average child with T1DM isn't likely to become a world-class athlete, he can certainly use physical activity not only to help to control diabetes but also to help to live a long and full life.

The Joslin Diabetes Center has been studying patients with T1DM who have been taking insulin for 50 years or more. In an article in the August 2007 issue of Diabetes Care, the center looked at the "clinical factors associated with resistance to microvascular (eyes, kidneys, nervous system) complications in diabetic patients of extreme duration." They concluded that "exercise was associated with reduced microvascular complications" and "exercise may be an important protective factor." In other words, despite 50 years of taking insulin for T1DM, these people don't have those complications.

Everyone should exercise regularly, not just people with diabetes. In this chapter, you find out why exercise is important in T1DM, how you can get started and get your child started, and what exercise may be best for you both. Stop finding excuses and begin enjoying the body that carries around your brain and heart!

The Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association is an organization that you can turn to for help, instruction, and friendship as you add exercise to your child's good diabetes care. Check out the organization's Web site at www.diabetes-exercise.org/index.asp or call 800-898-4322. They know all about diabetes and sports and are eager to share the information with you.

The skinny on how exercise affects glucose

In order for muscles to have energy for either moderate or vigorous exercise, they have to store glucose that's ready for use. As vigorous exercise like heavy weight lifting begins, the muscles rapidly use up their stored glucose. Then the liver is turned on to release its stores of glucose and to produce large amounts by converting protein into glucose. The liver can sometimes make so much glucose that the blood glucose is temporarily higher after exercise than before. This extra glucose is quickly taken up by the depleted muscles to restore their glucose.

In the case of moderate exercise, however, after the glucose in muscles is used up, the muscles begin to use fat for energy. This arrangement works well because there are more kilocalories of energy in fat than in glucose (a carbohydrate) and because fat turns into energy much more slowly than does glucose. As fat is burned up for energy, there's less fat available to cause arteriosclerosis. More HDL (good) cholesterol is formed to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

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