Diabetes Mellitus, Exercise


Article Author:
Mahesh Borhade


Article Editor:
Shikha Singh


Editors In Chief:
Dustin Constant
Donald Kushner


Managing Editors:
Avais Raja
Orawan Chaigasame
Carrie Smith
Abdul Waheed
Khalid Alsayouri
Trevor Nezwek
Radia Jamil
Erin Hughes
Patrick Le
Anoosh Zafar Gondal
Saad Nazir
William Gossman
Hassam Zulfiqar
Hussain Sajjad
Steve Bhimji
Muhammad Hashmi
John Shell
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Ahmad Malik
Sarosh Vaqar
Mark Pellegrini
James Hughes
Beata Beatty
Beenish Sohail
Nazia Sadiq
Hajira Basit
Phillip Hynes


Updated:
1/11/2019 11:56:48 AM

Introduction

Diabetes mellitus leads to macrovascular and microvascular complications, resulting in life-threatening conditions. Exercise is considered an important therapeutic regimen for diabetes mellitus. Exercise in diabetic patients promotes cardiovascular benefits by reducing cardiovascular risk and mortality, assists with weight management, and it improves glycemic control. The increased tissue sensitivity to insulin produces a beneficial effect on glycemic control.[1]

Indications

Recommendations about exercise regimen come from the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine standards of medical care in diabetes (2013).[1][2]

Type 1 and type 2 patients with diabetes are encouraged to do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Patients suffering from diabetes should also be encouraged to perform resistance training at least twice per week. Patients with moderate to severe proliferative retinopathy have contraindications for resistance training. Otherwise, for physically fit patients, a shorter duration of more vigorous aerobic exercise is recommended.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity: Perform 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week. Begin with 10 minutes of stretching and warm-up, follow that with 15 to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise of person’s choice such as walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, or rowing to name few. Maintain regularity in exercise regimen at least three to five times per week. Continue to perform exercise at the same time in relation of meals and insulin injections. Gradual increment in duration and intensity as tolerated by the patient should be planned. Goal is to perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.[3][4]

Resistance training: Exercise with free weights or weight machines. In the absence of contraindications listed above, patients should perform resistance training at least twice per week. Patients should involve the larger group of muscles for exercise training, such as core, upper and lower body. Proliferative retinopathy may cause retinal bleeding due to Valsalva maneuvers with a possibility of marked increase in blood pressure precipitating intraocular bleeding in such patients.[5]

Vigorous aerobic exercise: Patients with diabetes who are generally fit, exercising regularly and have higher aerobic capacity may perform 75 minutes per week of more vigorous aerobic exercise. The preferable regimen is jogging 9.6 km per hour. An alternative regimen can be low-volume, high-intensity training, during which patients exercise more vigorously for a shorter amount of time, such as cycling at 85% to 90% percent of individual maximal heart rate for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of rest, with a total of 10 repetitions. The long-term health effects of low-volume, high-intensity training is unknown. Again, as with moderate excise regimen, a gradual increment in duration and intensity as tolerated by the patient should be planned.[5]

Contraindications

Relative contraindications for exercise regimen include proliferative retinopathy that may cause retinal bleeding due to Valsalva maneuvers with a possibility of a marked increase in blood pressure precipitating intraocular bleeding in such patients. Diabetic neuropathy should avoid traumatic weight-bearing, as it leads to pressure ulcers.[1]

Clinical Significance

Short-Term Effects of Exercise[6][7][8]

Pathophysiology

Type 2 Diabetes: Exercise leads to an increase in insulin sensitivity. Patients on oral hypoglycemic have decreased blood glucose concentration after exercise. Studies have suggested that patients who were fasting, no change in blood glucose concentrations noted; whereas, blood concentrations decreased in patients who exercised after eating.

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Patients with well-controlled diabetes on insulin regimen: Higher serum insulin concertation is noted during exercise due to increased temperature and blood flow leading to increased absorption from subcutaneous depots. Exogenous insulin can’t be shut off. Hence, these patients have a drop in blood glucose levels much larger than in normal individuals.
  • Patients with diabetes and poor metabolic control: Exercise causes a paradoxical elevation in blood glucose concentrations

Long-Term Effects of Exercise[9][10]

Pathophysiology

Patients have impaired exercise capacity due to generally increased body mass index and advanced age. Reduced skeletal muscle oxidative capacity due to mitochondrial dysfunction has been responsible for impaired exercise capacity. Patients are insulin resistant due to many defects in glucose metabolism.

  • Decreased number and function of both insulin receptors and glucose transporters
  • Decreased activity of some intracellular enzymes
  • Low maximal oxygen uptake during exercise

An exercise program leads to increased activity of mitochondrial enzymes, increased insulin sensitivity, and muscle capillary recruitment. Adding resistance training to aerobic exercise provides an additional benefit of increased insulin sensitivity.

Blood Glucose Management During Exercise[11][12][13]

General principles for diabetic patients for exercise regimens:

  • Maintain a high level of fluid intake before, during, and after exercise
  • Maintaining blood sugar logs before, during, and after exercise
  • If blood glucose is less than 100 mg/dL, it is recommended to ingest food, such as glucose tablets, juice. About 15 to 30 grams of quickly absorbed carbohydrate is recommended to be ingested 15 to 30 minutes before exercise. Extra ingestion of food may be warranted during exercise based on blood glucose testing during the exercise.  Immediately after excise slowly absorbed carbohydrates such as dried fruit, granola bars or trail mix are recommended as patients are at risk of late hypoglycemia.
  • Vigorous exercise is to be avoided in the presence of substantial hyperglycemia greater than 250 mg/dl.
  • Hypoglycemia is not common in patients with type 2 diabetes not treated with insulin or oral hypoglycemics. Ingestion of extra carbohydrates is not required.
  • Use insulin about 60 to 90 minutes before exercise to prevent increased insulin absorption along with injecting in a site other than muscle to be exercised. For example, inject into arms when cycling exercise and into the abdomen when the exercise involves both the arms and legs.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Long-Term Compliance and an Interprofessional Approach[14]

Maintenance of the exercise program in patients with type 2 diabetes is an important goal because it is associated with long-term cardiovascular benefits and reduced mortality. Primary care physicians and nursing professional diabetes educators caring for patients play an important role in educating these patients of the importance of exercise regimen as a therapeutic option for the disease management. There have been studies which suggested simple behavioral counseling by clinicians and nurse educators during routine clinic visits gave encouraging results for increasing compliance, although long-term follow-up is needed.

Exercise regimens are difficult to maintain for more than 3 months due to intense nature of the programs requiring extra visits for special classes. In a 10-year study of 255 patients with diabetes enrolled in a diabetes education program emphasizing exercise, the rate of compliance fell from 80% for 6 weeks to less than 50% for 3 months. The compliance rate further dropped to less than 20% at 1 year. A coordinated interprofessional approach with educators working with clinicians will help to maximize compliance. (Level V)


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Diabetes Mellitus, Exercise - Questions

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An insulin-dependent patient with diabetes mellitus is receiving physical therapy for a strain of the lateral thigh musculature. What advice should be given about exercise and the administration of insulin?



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A patient who is obese and has type 2 diabetes mellitus presents to the clinic. She states that she plans to start exercising. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), how many minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise should this patient be advised to perform to achieve the health benefits?



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A 50-year-old male is interested in a vigorous exercise program consisting of 45 minutes of stationary biking three times per week between 9 and 10 o'clock at night. His current insulin regimen consists of 4 units of regular insulin before lunch, 6 units of regular insulin before dinner, and 4 units of long-acting insulin before bedtime. On the first day of his exercise program, his blood glucose before dinner at 6 o'clock is 124 mg/dL. He injects his usual dose of 6 units of regular insulin. His blood glucose is 134 mg/dL before biking and 138 mg/dL before bedtime. He awakens at 3 o'clock in the morning with severe hypoglycemia. What should he do to minimize the risk of hypoglycemia?



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A patient who has had a significantly sedentary lifestyle is newly diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and is interested in an exercise program. What kind of exercise program should be initiated?



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A 30-year-old female comes to her primary care provider for routine evaluation. She takes insulin glargine and insulin lispro for last three years for her type 1 diabetes. Three days ago she ran a marathon race. Her vital signs were temperature 98.5 F, blood pressure 126/78 mm Hg, pulse rate 78/min, and respiration rate 16/min. Her BMI is 24 kg/m2. Laboratory studies: hemoglobin A1c 6.8%, urinalysis normal, and urine albumin-creatinine ratio 100 mg/g. Which is the most appropriate next step in this patient’s management?



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A 30-year-old female goes to her primary care for a routine evaluation. She has type 1 diabetes mellitus and takes insulin glargine and insulin lispro for last 3 years. 5 days ago, she took part in a local marathon race. On physical examination, temperature is 98.5 F, blood pressure is 126/78 mm Hg, pulse rate is 78/min, and respiration rate is 16/min. Her BMI is 24 kg/m2. Laboratory studies: Hemoglobin A1c-6.8%, Urinalysis-Normal and Urine albumin-creatinine ratio-100 mg/g. In addition to refraining from heavy exercise, which of the following is the most appropriate next step in this patient’s management?



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Diabetes Mellitus, Exercise - References

References

Colberg SR,Sigal RJ,Fernhall B,Regensteiner JG,Blissmer BJ,Rubin RR,Chasan-Taber L,Albright AL,Braun B, Exercise and type 2 diabetes: the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement executive summary. Diabetes care. 2010 Dec     [PubMed]
Long BJ,Calfas KJ,Wooten W,Sallis JF,Patrick K,Goldstein M,Marcus BH,Schwenk TL,Chenoweth J,Carter R,Torres T,Palinkas LA,Heath G, A multisite field test of the acceptability of physical activity counseling in primary care: project PACE. American journal of preventive medicine. 1996 Mar-Apr     [PubMed]
Calfas KJ,Long BJ,Sallis JF,Wooten WJ,Pratt M,Patrick K, A controlled trial of physician counseling to promote the adoption of physical activity. Preventive medicine. 1996 May-Jun     [PubMed]
Bird SR,Hawley JA, Exercise and type 2 diabetes: new prescription for an old problem. Maturitas. 2012 Aug     [PubMed]
Phielix E,Meex R,Moonen-Kornips E,Hesselink MK,Schrauwen P, Exercise training increases mitochondrial content and ex vivo mitochondrial function similarly in patients with type 2 diabetes and in control individuals. Diabetologia. 2010 Aug     [PubMed]
Kirwan JP,Solomon TP,Wojta DM,Staten MA,Holloszy JO, Effects of 7 days of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and responsiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism. 2009 Jul     [PubMed]
Schneider SH,Amorosa LF,Khachadurian AK,Ruderman NB, Studies on the mechanism of improved glucose control during regular exercise in type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes. Diabetologia. 1984 May     [PubMed]
Schneider SH,Khachadurian AK,Amorosa LF,Clemow L,Ruderman NB, Ten-year experience with an exercise-based outpatient life-style modification program in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes care. 1992 Nov     [PubMed]
Soo K,Furler SM,Samaras K,Jenkins AB,Campbell LV,Chisholm DJ, Glycemic responses to exercise in IDDM after simple and complex carbohydrate supplementation. Diabetes care. 1996 Jun     [PubMed]
Grimm JJ,Ybarra J,Berné C,Muchnick S,Golay A, A new table for prevention of hypoglycaemia during physical activity in type 1 diabetic patients. Diabetes     [PubMed]
Koivisto VA,Felig P, Effects of leg exercise on insulin absorption in diabetic patients. The New England journal of medicine. 1978 Jan 12     [PubMed]
Buse JB,Ginsberg HN,Bakris GL,Clark NG,Costa F,Eckel R,Fonseca V,Gerstein HC,Grundy S,Nesto RW,Pignone MP,Plutzky J,Porte D,Redberg R,Stitzel KF,Stone NJ, Primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases in people with diabetes mellitus: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Circulation. 2007 Jan 2     [PubMed]
Winnick JJ,Sherman WM,Habash DL,Stout MB,Failla ML,Belury MA,Schuster DP, Short-term aerobic exercise training in obese humans with type 2 diabetes mellitus improves whole-body insulin sensitivity through gains in peripheral, not hepatic insulin sensitivity. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2008 Mar     [PubMed]
Devlin JT, Effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabetes care. 1992 Nov     [PubMed]

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