Diabetes today is a disease whose incidence is steadily rising. Among the risk factors, conditions such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, caused by incorrect lifestyles due to sedentariness and improper diet, are increasing. Having an active life, on the other hand, is essential both to prevent diabetes and in support of treatment in diabetic patients. 

Exercising regularly to the best of your ability is crucial because it helps keep weight under control, reduces blood sugar and blood pressure, and increases insulin sensitivity and HDL cholesterol, the so-called “good cholesterol.” In addition to targeted workouts, it is helpful to change your daily habits, for example, getting used to walking or biking longer or choosing stairs instead of the elevator. 

What Is Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease associated with increased blood sugar levels. It occurs when the patient has an issue with the proper functioning of insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas that keeps blood glucose levels stable. 

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, a rare and very severe form associated with the total absence of insulin due to the action of autoantibodies, and type 2 diabetes, which affects about 90 percent of diabetic patients. Type 2 diabetes is generally caused by insulin resistance, a decrease in the ability of insulin to act, leading to an increase in hepatic glucose production and, at the same time, less glucose consumption by the muscles.

If type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, things change regarding type 2 diabetes. Indeed, in this case, lifestyle plays a crucial role in prevention: a balanced diet and the habitual practice of physical activity help reduce blood glucose levels. 

Diabetes: Therapy, Blood Sugar Control and Lifestyle

Diabetes, if neglected, can lead to complications affecting the cardiovascular system, kidneys, eyes, and nerves, severely affecting the quality of life. 

Patients with diabetes must, therefore, adopt a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet and scrupulously follow treatment, which includes medications that normalize blood sugar and, if necessary, medicines to keep other complications of the condition under control. 

For optimal management of this condition, the diabetes specialist can enlist the support of other professionals such as a dietitian, cardiologist, nephrologist, neurologist, and ophthalmologist. Lastly, an element of fundamental importance in the treatment of diabetes is the self-monitoring of blood glucose, which, depending on the type of diabetes and its severity, can be assessed a few dozen times a year or even daily.

A diagnosis of diabetes thus changes the life management of the patient affected by it.

However, it is wrong to think that diabetic patients cannot lead normal lives or have to follow particularly limiting diets. Those with diabetes can eat everything, and the specialist will indicate which foods are to be consumed in moderation and in small quantities. Generally, it is better to avoid excessive consumption of carbohydrates (rice, sweets) and fats (fried foods, red meat) and prefer vegetables and fruits in the right quantities.

Diabetes: The Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity also contributes to diabetes control. Sport allows better insulin sensitivity and the patient’s metabolic parameters. Despite the importance of exercise in treating the disease, the data are not encouraging: in fact, only 20 percent of patients with diabetes practice sports regularly. Sports should be carried out in agreement with the treating physician and according to one’s physical condition, but it is necessary to try to have a lifestyle as active as possible. 

Diabetes: What Sports to Do?

Those who cannot practice sports can start with moderate exercises: walking, for example, even without making excessive efforts, is an excellent activity that should be done for about 30 minutes a day, five times a week. 

Those with diabetes can also try interval training, alternating slow and fast walking. This exercise helps blood sugar control and is beneficial to the cardiovascular system. 

Stretching is also useful as it helps improve muscle flexibility and increase performance. In general, aerobic activity, such as walking, yoga, Pilates, or biking, as well as being practicable for almost everyone, is also the most beneficial to the metabolism.

Nordic walking is another suitable option for those who can sustain more intense exercise. It activates the muscles of the arms and torso, and the push also increases energy expenditure, promoting body weight reduction and training cardiorespiratory capacity. 

In any case, trained people can devote themselves to the sport of their choice and even to sports once considered forbidden to diabetic patients (e.g., mountaineering, parachuting, scuba diving). Thanks to new technologies, blood glucose management is simpler and more precise, and it is much easier than it used to be to prevent hypoglycemia and, therefore, to reduce the risk of losing consciousness when it could be perilous.