Although it doesn’t lower the hemoglobin A1c or normalize the blood glucose, exercise has a few essential functions that are important to healthier body in people with Type 1 Diabetes. For example:
• Preventing peripheral vascular disease, strokes, and heart attacks: People with Type 1 Diabetes frequently die of cardiovascular disease caused by narrowing of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). Exercise reduces the likelihood of arteriosclerosis by decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL), increasing good cholesterol (HDL), improving lung function and making the heart more efficient.
• Making blood glucose management easier: When someone with Type 1 Diabetes exercises, his insulin sensitivity gets better. This means that he needs less insulin to process the carbohydrates intake. The increased sensitivity may last for one day after exercise. Often, those who take the least amount of daily insulin are enthusiastic exercisers. They usually have low hemoglobin A1c levels, however increased insulin sensitivity means after an exercise, they need to have a bedtime snack and reduce insulin dose to avoid nighttime hypoglycemia.
Some extra benefits of regular exercise for people with Type 1 Diabetes include:
• Stronger bones.
• Increased mental ability.
• Lower blood pressure.
• Easier weight maintenance.
• Greater libido.
• Lower possibility of cancer and heart disease.
• More energy.
You may think that children with Type 1 Diabetes don’t need to worry about heart disease, weight maintenance, blood pressure and strong bones, but the earlier they establish good exercise habits, the bigger the chances that they will stick with their healthy routine throughout their life.
You should do a couple of things to prepare a child for an exercise program. Apparently, having the right gears is important. If a child is recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, there is no concern about causing complications worse with regular exercise, but if he already has diabetes for more than 5 years, just be sure that his organs are in good shape.
Talking to the doctor
A child with Type 1 Diabetes can choose any exercise he wants. Just like a full-grown adult with Type 1 Diabetes, though, he needs to see a doctor before starting a vigorous exercise program, it is even more important if you already have this condition for ten years or more. Talk with your doctor before establishing vigorous exercise plan, especially:
• If there is a complication with your diabetes condition.
• If you are obese with a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more.
• If you are physically restricted.
• If you have elevated blood pressure or coronary artery disease.
• If you use drugs daily, you should also talk to a nutritionist about good diet plan to avoid hypoglycemia and ensure adequate nutrition level.
Allocate one hour each day
The intensity and frequency of your aerobic exercises depend upon your goal.
• If you want to have superb stamina and physical fitness, 30 minutes of exercise each day such as swimming, cycling, tennis, squash, walking, and jogging does the job.
• If you want to maintain your weight, an hour each day should be enough.
• If you want to lose weight, 90 minutes each day can make you lose 5 to 10 lbs each month.
In most cases, both for healthy people and diabetics, one hour of exercise each day can maintain good health and ideal weight. It shouldn’t be considered as the upper limit, though. It’s perfectly fine if you want to do more. One hour each day can keep the doctor away for decades!
One most common reply is “I don’t have the time.” One good way to find time for exercise is by keeping a log of your daily activities. Once you do that, you may be amazed at how much spare time that is actually available. You may only need to give up watching a half-an-hour sitcom episode and park your car a little farther from your office. One good way to remove boredom during a routine exercise is by making your brain and senses distracted, you may watch a favorite TV show when exercising on a treadmill or picking up an audio book on your iPod while you’re running on a beach or park.
Determining how hard you should exercise
A simple exercise for someone may be very demanding for another. When patients are asked to walk 10,000 steps each day, most of them are simply astonished. Yet when they finally reach that level, they understand that it isn’t that hard. Push yourself to an intensity where you are about to gasp and you are doing a moderate exercise. Determining your exertion level is a practical way in determining whether your activity can make a difference in your fitness and stamina (or your child’s). You can easily rate your exertion level while performing common activities:
• Extremely light exercise: It is very easy to do while requiring minimal amount of exertion.
• Very light exercise: It comparable to walking slowly for five minutes.
• Light exercise: It is comparable to thirty minutes of fast-paced walk.
• Somewhat hard exercise: You begin to breathe rapidly and your heart beats noticeable faster.
• Very hard exercise: It is tough to continue and you are really tired. You start to talk incoherently and making simple calculations in your head is difficult. This is the optimum exercise level.
• Extremely hard exercise: It pushes your body to its limits, the risk of injuries may not worth the benefits.
Adjusting insulin dosage after an exercise
Exercising when you have Type 1 Diabetes requires more consideration than those with Type 2 Diabetes. People with Type 2 Diabetes are luckier as their bodies that can produce some amount of insulin according to the requirement. In Type 1 diabetics, however, their source of insulin is only through inhalation or by injection. There are a few things you should consider if you have Type 1 Diabetes and want to do regular exercises:
• Where you should inject the insulin: Thigh injection is much faster than belly injection. Avoid injecting your thigh before an exercise to avoid hypoglycemia.
• How much insulin you should take: Insulin is important during an exercise, to allow muscle cells to burn glucose, but a normal dose of insulin can be too much during an exercise. If you become hypoglycemic during an exercise, you won’t be able to continue. If you have not enough insulin in your body, muscles won’t get enough glucose, consequently you become tired too easily.
• What type of insulin should I take: Regular insulin is a short-acting type, it won’t lower the glucose level in blood as rapidly or as much as rapid-acting insulin like Novolog, Humalog, or Apidra. For this reason, it is advisable to use regular insulin before a moderate or heavy exercise instead of the rapid-acting type.
• What if I use rapid-acting insulin: You should start exercising an hour after taking rapid-acting insulin.
Children with Type 1 Diabetes should have these additional precautions during an exercise:
• Wears a necklace or bracelet to identify himself as a Type 1 Diabetes sufferer.
• Checks his blood sugar frequently every hour, if the exercise session is longer than two hours.
• Chooses proper shoes and socks.
• Drinks enough water if he is thirsty.
• Exercises with friends.
• Prepares rapid-acting glucose in case of a hypoglycemia.