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One of the most common pieces of advice for people with diabetes is exercising, as it can help lower blood sugar and reduce weight. In addition, training offers a number of other benefits that improve overall well-being and may have a tangible connection with diabetes. This can alleviate symptoms, e.g. For example, better sleep, an improved immune response, more energy, less sugar cravings and less stress.
However, the advice to move or go to a gym is not as appropriate as it would be for people without this disease. In fact, it could even endanger them.
"Both types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, benefit from physical activity, especially when it comes to weight, but you have to be careful when and how this exercise takes place," says Dr. Joshua Scott, sports medicine in primary care doctor at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. "This is especially true if you include drugs in the equation."
For example, he says, many diabetes medications lower blood sugar. Exercise also has this effect, which means that diabetics can suffer from hypoglycemia – also called blood sugar lowering – if the body runs out of glucose as energy both during and after training.
"This hypoglycemia may occur too late, which means it can occur up to 24 hours after exercise," says Scott. "That means they could hit rock bottom by doing what is supposed to be so good for them."
For this reason, it is crucial to be prepared with an appropriate plan, the right resources and intelligent strategies for nutrition and snacks.
Find appropriate resources
There are thousands of online fitness classes and countless personal options, not to mention personal trainers and wellness trainers. But, as Scott noted, choosing just one is not enough. In fact, exercising without diabetes-friendly advice can be very harmful.
This is the impetus for a recently developed digital app, GlucoseZone, which creates training recommendations for people with type 1, type 2 and prediabetes. The app provides guidance based on real-time blood glucose levels as well as other variables such as medication, fitness, body weight and exercise preferences. According to Charles O & # 39; Connell, founder and CEO of GlucoseZone, it can also be integrated into portable devices such as insulin pumps.
"I've met a lot of people with diabetes who want to do sports but don't know what to do," he says. "You are not lazy, on the contrary. But they have unique requirements and they are right to be careful with workouts. "
The app has been under development for almost four years. Clinical pilot programs have resulted in the functionality of the app being refined. According to O & # 39; Connell, GlucoseZone can be an important part of treatment by providing training programs that take into account not only fitness levels, but also real-time blood glucose and medication consumption.
"Any type 2 diabetes medication is indicated as a dietary and exercise supplement," he says. "That means if you are not exercising, the medication will not work as it should. There is also a difference between Type 1 and Type 2, and the exercise instructions should also be different. We believe that this helps to fill one up. " Gap in the nursing standard. "
According to Justin Emmans, a diabetes fitness trainer who develops content for GlucoseZone, including the beginner's program Couch to 7.0 (the A1c level is considered an ideal target for people), the app can help you get started with diabetes).
As a type 1 diabetic, Emmans started to control his diabetes, but tried to keep his blood sugar level just right to prevent hypoglycemia during exercise. He looked at GlucoseZone to help others who face the same challenges.
"Exercise is tough for people with diabetes because they always try to focus on what is effective and safe," he says. "The guesswork is coming to an end so people can enjoy their workouts."
Right before and after refueling
In addition to using GlucoseZone, a large part of diabetes control is understanding the nutritional options before and after exercise.
"A pre-workout snack or meal that contains carbohydrates is more likely to provide the quick energy your body needs to exercise effectively than a supplement," said nutritionist McKenzie Caldwell, RD, N., owner of Feed Your Zest Nutrition & Wellness, which has diabetes nutrition as one of its specialties. "Depending on the intensity, length, and timing of your workout, as well as medication or insulin, the way you do a workout may differ slightly from your general eating habits to treat diabetes."
For example, she says that the protein, fiber, and fat that don't raise blood sugar levels after a balanced carbohydrate meal may be suitable for those who don't have insulin or who do low-intensity exercise. Someone taking medication and doing HIIT training may need to eat simpler carbohydrates before training so that blood sugar doesn't get too low.
Regarding post-workout options, Caldwell recommends the "rule of 15", ie 15 grams of carbohydrates within 15 minutes of the end of a workout. Combine it with protein, add it, and you'll gain muscle building benefits too.
But if you test your glucose after exercise and it's below 100 mg / dl, you could be at risk of low blood sugar, she says. In this case, leave the protein behind and take simple carbohydrates like half a cup of juice or a tablespoon of honey. Wait 15 minutes and test again. Repeat this process until your blood sugar level rises above 100 mg / dl and add the protein to your next meal.
Download the glucose zone app for workouts