Diabetes is a common chronic condition. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. To understand what diabetes is, it's helpful to know what glucose and insulin are. Glucose, also known as blood sugar, provides the human body with energy. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to access glucose.
Patients with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin. Individuals who have type 2 diabetes produces insulin, but their bodies don't use it properly. Physical therapy is an important component of effective diabetes management.
What Physical Therapists Can Do for Patients with Diabetes
A physical therapist (PT) is an allied health professional who specializes in exercise and body function. Frequently, diabetic patients participate in short-term intensive physical therapy programs to learn the role exercise plays in diabetes management.
During the program, a PT may teach a person with diabetes the type, duration, and intensity of exercise that's appropriate for that specific patient. Most diabetics need to participate in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week. Twice weekly strength (weight) training is helpful too.
The patient's education usually includes information he or she needs to exercise safely. For example, diabetics should not exercise when their blood sugar is lower than 100 mg/dL. Finally, the patients find out how to continue their exercise routine after they complete physical therapy.
The Importance of Exercise in Diabetes Management
Regular exercise has a multitude of benefits for individuals with diabetes. Exercise improves the human body's ability to use insulin. The muscle contractions that come with physical activity increase the body's sensitivity to glucose even when insulin isn't available. In addition to improved blood sugar control, studies have shown exercise can lower a diabetic's need for medication and promote weight loss.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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