Type 1 Diabetes and Exercise
What is Type 1 diabetes mellitus?
Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is an auto immune disease in which the cells of the pancreas beta cells which originate from the islets of Langhan cells that produce the hormone insulin are destroyed by its own immune system.
Approximately 5-10% of the diabetes population have Type 1 diabetes Mellitus.
Insulin is a hormone that lowers the blood glucose (sugar) levels; without insulin production glucose levels are too high (Hyperglycaemia). T1DM is more likely genetic and are diagnosed quite early in the life of humans. However, what triggers the disease process is still largely unknown.
T1DM is controlled by injections of insulin daily or by an insulin pump that the client stores in their pocket and is connected to their abdomen.
How is it monitored?
Patients with T1DM check their blood glucose levels several times/day and is done by pricking the finger and capturing a drop of blood and putting it in a small device that will calculate your glucose readings. Ideally the client with T1DM will aim for 4.0-7.0mmol/L and HbA1c of 7%.
Why is it important to manage glucose levels?
Poorly controlled T1DM can develop Cardiovascular issues. Too much sugar in the blood will disrupt blood flow in the smaller arteries (capillaries) that are in the retina (eye), kidneys and near nerves; all of which can lead to kidney disease and failure, blindness, changes in pain sensation and loss of muscle control and balance.
Damage to large blood vessels increases the risk of Heart diseases and potential Heart attack.
How does exercise benefit people with type 1 diabetes?
Maintaining good blood glucose levels can be more challenging for people with T1DM than for those people with T2DM.
Regular exercise is very beneficial for both T1 and T2.
For T1DM exercise can increase insulin sensitivity in the muscle, meaning the muscles will pick the insulin up more quickly and allow sugar to move into the muscles or liver to be stored more quickly decreasing the level of sugar in the blood. This sensitivity is said to last 16-24 hours after exercise.
It also decreases the amount of dose of insulin needed. It will decrease the risk of diabetes related complications as mentioned above.
Most importantly exercise will improve quality of life and reduce symptoms of depression.