Physical exercise, the best ‘vaccine’ against diabetes and its complications

One of the best resources currently available against the diabetesa disease that already affects more than 5 million people in Spain, is based on something as basic, known, effective, safe and cheap as regular physical exercise and adapted to the characteristics of each person.

In the course of XXXIII Congress of the Spanish Society of Diabetes (SED)which is being held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, several sessions and conferences have been planned with physical exercise as their central theme.

Exercise and proper diet, the key to success

“Several long-term, high-quality clinical trials have conclusively shown that regular exercise can prevent the onset of diabetes or delay its debutt, as well as making it follow a evolution with fewer comorbidities and complications (it is associated with a lower incidence of microvascular complications, especially in women)”, says Prof. Lopez Calbet, who emphasizes that “This preventive effect of exercise is even greater if it is accompanied by a proper diet”. But also, “In the very long term, Regular and scheduled physical exercise is associated with lower mortality due to cardiovascular causes and better quality of lifeand decreases mortality from any cause in patients with DM2.

The list of benefits offered by physical exercise is especially intense and extensive in people with diabetes. As López Calbet lists, allows to reduce the need for insulin or other pharmacological treatments for glycemic controlcan improve glycemic control, helps maintain bone mass, mood and motor function”. But, in addition, the exercise also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effectscontributes to improving endothelial function, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improves the lipid profile, reduces the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases, improves immune function and can reduce the risk of developing cancer by up to a third, among other benefits.

Therefore, as a fundamental recommendation, all patients with carbohydrate intolerance and type 2 diabetes mellitusin which there is no medical contraindication, should incorporate the almost daily practice of intensity exercise moderate to improve diabetes control, reduce its complications, improve quality of life and reduce diabetes-associated mortality”.

Guidelines to follow

And who should be responsible for establishing these personalized exercise guidelines? For the Physiology expert, “the one who knows how to do it, the one who has experience”. However, it nuances “The help of professionals in the field of Sports Sciences or Physiotherapy, especially if they have completed a Master’s Degree in Physical Activity for Health or similar, could have a great impact”. What it’s all about, he explains, “It is generate a conducive environment and activities with a playful or training component that facilitate adherence, and in this the professionals of Sports Sciences are the best; In addition, these professionals know how to adapt the exercise loads and control their effects, and how to program exercises in accordance with the principles that govern sports training”.

In general, people who have been athletes in some phases of their lives are the ones who best adapt to following an exercise program prescribed by medical indication. However, for the Prof. José A. López Calbet“the ideal is create the habit of exercise in children and create the conditions for the general population to maintain an active lifestyle throughout life”; In fact, he assures “The prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus begins at school age and extends throughout life”.

In adults, at least 150 minutes of exercise per week at moderate intensity is recommendedand in older people, 2 weekly exercise sessions should be added to improve strength. “Physiological knowledge indicates that the ideal is for patients to do aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming,… at least five days a week, and even better if it is every day; in some patients, higher-intensity exercise could be added (for example, high-intensity interval exercise may facilitate glycemic control)”advises the rapporteur, who stresses “The importance of looking for exercise modalities that are entertaining and to the liking of patients”.

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