When I hear the word exercise the word 'groan' usually pops into my mind.
They sort of go together like 'bacon and egg' or 'gin and tonic' don't they?
If you are an exercise enthusiast then the 'groan' is the sound you make when you are really pushing it and if, like so many of us, you are a couch potato, groan is what you say at the very thought of having to start exercising.
Unfortunately exercise is a must for any diabetic. It lowers the blood sugar and improves the ability of the body to use glucose. Next to diet it is the most important thing you can do to help yourself fight this disease, so all together now ...... "GROAN" ......., then accept the inevitable and get on with it!!!
Before I go into the 'which's and whyfor's' of exercise I want to first explain what happens within our body when we exercise.
Muscles all need fuel, but where do they get it from? Resting muscles happily use fatty acids to provide most of their needs. However, when you start exercising those muscles they need more fuel and so start to use glucose.
The more you exercise them the more glucose they need. The first place they get this from is the glycogen stored in the muscles themselves but this soon runs out and they then start to use glucose from the bloodstream.
If that runs out there is always the liver to rely on. It has stores of glycogen that it can break down into glucose and send to the bloodstream or it can break down proteins and fats to make more glucose to do the same with. If the liver was not available to supply the extra glucose like this hypoglycaemia would occur in even normal people after about half an hour of exercise.
Now in a non-diabetic person this whole process works well and the body's functioning systems keep everything stable. When the muscles first pull the glucose out of the blood and the blood glucose levels drop it works as a signal to the beta cells to stop producing so much insulin.
The amount of insulin in the blood then decreases and these low levels let the liver know it is time to start opening up it's stores and releasing their glucose. Once that source of glucose is depleted the body starts burning it's fat stores to produce glucose. This system keeps the blood glucose levels stable over the whole exercise period.
As you will be well aware of we diabetics do not have this smooth working system so things can get a bit more complicated. This does not mean we cannot exercise though! Needless to say you need to be intelligent about which exercise you do.