Physical Therapy & Diabetes

To sight the beginning of this study, “in 2014, 442 million people worldwide were estimated to have diabetes. This number was estimated to grow to 592 million by 2035.”  

According to the study, “80% of patients referred for out-patient physical therapy have diabetes or are at risk of diabetes”.

It does not mention how many of those people are prediabetic. Prediabetes is defined by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as having any of the three measures:

  • Fasting plasma glucose 100-125mg/dl
  • 2-hour plasma glucose 140-199mg/dl
  • HbA1c 5.7-6.4%

Besides managing any preexisting or reoccurring injuries, the Physical Therapist role in this scenario was to prescribe exercise to help manage the patient’s symptoms.

When you have type 2 diabetes, physical activity is an important component of your treatment plan. If you stay fit and active throughout your life, you will be able to better control your diabetes and keep your blood glucose level in the correct range. Controlling your blood glucose level is essential to preventing long term complications such as nerve pain and kidney disease.

People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, either because their body does not produce enough insulin to process it, or because their body does not use insulin properly.

In either case exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you are exercising. In other words, it does not matter if you are insulin resistant or if you do not have enough insulin: when you exercise, your muscles get the glucose they need, and in turn, your blood glucose levels go down.

If you are insulin resistant exercise makes your insulin more effective. That is your insulin resistance goes down when you exercise, and your cells can use the glucose more effectively.

Benefits you will reap with regular exercise include.

  • Burning extra calories
  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Reducing your LDL
  • Boosting your HDL
  • More energy
  • Stress management
  • Better sleep
  • Stronger bones
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