Type 2 Diabetes is an endemic problem in many Western societies due to poor diet and exercise. Whilst some people are born with Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes can develop insidiously over time due to being overweight, lacking a balanced diet and lacking regular exercise.
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when our bodies become resistant to Insulin, or when we simply don’t produce enough Insulin to control our blood sugar levels. If blood sugar increases to a level beyond where it should be, damage to vital parts of the body can occur.
Long Term Effects Of Type 2 Diabetes
Even though Type 2 Diabetes is manageable through a careful exercise program and a balanced diet, the long-term effects of the illness out of regular control include the following:
- Nerve, organ and blood vessel damage due to high levels of blood sugar in the body,
- Stroke and heart disease risk is increased,
- High blood sugar levels that are not managed can lead to the walls of our arteries and blood vessels become blocked by fats. This can damage our heart muscle over time.
- High glucose levels in our body can also damage nerves and cause burning pain, pins and needles sensations, or tingling in our extremities. If parts of the central nervous system are affected, it can cause vomiting, nausea and other gut related problems,
- The retina behind our eyes is also filled with tiny blood vessels, and it can become damaged by uncontrolled sugar levels and cause a disease called Diabetic Retinopathy. If this continues, vision is impaired.
- Just as the tiny blood vessels in the retina can be damaged, the vessels in our kidneys can also be damaged. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure, which is very serious.
- If the peripheral nerves are affected (those in our extremities) and become numb, we may not feel pain, such as cuts on our feet. This damage, if left untreated, can lead to ulceration and infection.
- Damaged blood vessels can also lead to skin problems and skin infections.
- The tiny nerves and blood vessels in our genitals can also be damaged by unmanaged Type 2 Diabetes. If this occurs, it can lead to sexual dysfunction, including Inorgasmia (lack of ability to orgasm), inability to get an erection in men, lack of sex drive and libido, pain during sexual activity and vaginal dryness.
- Though there is still debate over the mechanisms involved, high and uncontrolled blood sugar seems to contribute to higher risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease,
- Hearing problems in diabetics are also common.
The Many Benefits Of Exercise
Given the potentially serious and insidious nature of many long-term diseases caused by Type 2 Diabetes, how can those risks be mitigated?
Regular exercise is one key element in combatting the effects of Diabetes and managing it long term.
However, what are some of the general benefits of a program of exercise for those suffering with Diabetes? Consider the following benefits:
- Exercise helps to regulate and lower blood pressure
- It helps to control weight and also makes the body burn stored energy more efficiently
- Increased strength and tone
- Exercise can also help to increase bone strength and bone density, making it ideal for seniors suffering with osteoporosis
- More positive mood and emotional well-being
- Increased energy during the day and better sleep at night
Exercises For Seniors With Type 2 Diabetes
Because many such diabetic symptoms occur in older people, it is important to develop exercise programs that are specifically tailored to seniors, taking into consideration the challenges that they face on a daily basis.
However, what could an appropriate exercise program for seniors consist of? Here are some areas to consider:
- Light and moderate aerobic exercise that includes walking, Ballroom Dancing, swimming and/or hydrotherapy,
- Gentle to moderate strength, flexibility and mobility training through a Pilate’s program developed for older people.
Conclusion – Manage Type 2 Diabetes Effectively
Due to the many serious symptoms and diseases that can occur as a result of poorly managed Diabetes, and the appearance of many of the symptoms in vulnerable older people, it’s important to find effective methods to alleviate them.
A gentle to moderate exercise program tailored to the needs of seniors can significantly reduce the risks of Diabetes related disease and help to manage blood sugar levels.