Exercise good for diabetics, but can be a challenge

Monday, February 21st 2005, 10:56 am
By: News On 6

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ While exercise is beneficial for diabetic athletes, it takes planning and care to participate safely.

About 800-thousand people have type one, or juvenile, diabetes in which the pancreas produces none of the blood-sugar regulating insulin.

During exercise, the body depletes its stores of sugar, then cuts insulin production to compensate for the lower sugar levels.

But in Type one diabetics taking insulin shots or using a pump, that doesn't happen. Instead, hypoglycemia sets in. A person can lose consciousness, become comatose or even die.

Doctor James Desemone of the Goodman Diabetes Services at Albany Medical Center, says taking too little insulin can cause problems for an athlete too.

The key, he says, is setting up a regimen using insulin injections or a pump to mimic the functioning of a normal pancreas during exercise -- adjusting how much insulin is given to the body and when. Drinking enough liquids is also important.