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Here's how, and it's not too hard
The disease of diabetes has dire consequences for the health of our vascular system - our arteries, veins and capillaries. These vital pipelines become clogged up with excess sugar in our blood. This clogging results in nerves, cells and organs dying, e.g. hairs falling out, nerve pain as they die, blindness, kidney failure.
Every cell in our body relies on efficient blood flow, including our muscles. If we can increase the number of capillaries in our muscles, we can improve the blood flow and offset some of the adverse effects of diabetes.
Reduction in muscle capillarisation contributes to aging impairments
This is even more important as we age because a reduction in skeletal muscle capillarisation contributes to aging-associated impairments in muscle mass, metabolism, fitness and function. Diabetes itself inhibits the development of new capillaries, thus exacerbating the aging effect of lower capillarisation.
Also, late-onset diabetes - that which develops in adults - is associated with obesity. Studies have found that those who are obese also have a lower capillary density in their muscles. These two things together are a nasty combination. Fortunately, both are reversible.
What is capillarisation?
Capillarisation is the process of formation of an increase in capillaries (angiogenesis) that surround a muscle. (Capillaries are the tiny blood vessels that help to transfer blood to and from our tissues.) Capillarisation can occur in skeletal muscle, heart muscle and the alveoli in our lungs.
Imagine increased capillarisation as a vine which we are feeding to make it grow further and further and deeper and deeper over a supporting structure. In this case, the supporting structure is our skeletal muscles.
In fact, you've probably already seen it many times without recognising it. Check the image of the body-builder below. Do you see all the vascularisation that has developed to support his muscle mass? Below the skin, in his muscles, there will be extensive capillarisation - it's all about the need for increased blood flow.
Increasing the number of capillaries has several significant benefits for everyone, and for diabetics (and pre-diabetics) in particular:
And that's not all! In addition to all these somewhat obscure metabolic benefits, you will be able to exercise longer and more efficiently (you won't need to breathe as heavily). Your lungs and legs and heart will all work stronger and better.
In short, you'll have better aerobic fitness. That in itself has other significant benefits (but we won't go there in this article).
How do you stimulate capillarisation?
You grow more capillaries when you exercise - when your muscles tell the body that they need more fuel and more waste disposal. If your muscles don't get more fuel, then you stop moving, and if they cannot clear their waste, then you hit the wall. Training improves both those capacities in part facilitated by the growth of more capillaries.
While it has been well accepted that aerobic exercise promotes capillarisation, less well known is that resistance exercise also does the same (although not through the same metabolic pathways). Many recent studies have shown that HIIT and resistance training work as effectively (and take less time) than endurance training.
That's good news. You can continue to train as you wish.
If you prefer aerobic exercise then aim for 40 to 60 minutes of training at 65% VO2max 5 times a week. That's an exercise level between "somewhat hard" and "hard" - you would be able to hold a short conversation but it is becoming uncomfortable to keep doing it.
If you prefer resistance training, aim for high workloads 3 times a week. You can do HIIT as sprint training if you like to run, or in classes.
Rowing is always good, either as endurance or interval training. Or at home, search for a home HIIT program that suits your level of fitness and motivation.
Exercise is an important part of managing your diabetes
The result of you consistently doing any of the above will be to improve your vascular health, your metabolic fitness, and your brain health.
And it will lower the risks of cardiovascular diseases and other associated health problems caused by diabetes - it will help you manage your diabetes and possibly moderate all the adverse consequences.
If you are pre-diabetic (not yet diabetic) doing this will help you avoid becoming diabetic. It's worth doing everything you can to avoid diabetes. Believe me, I know as I'm diabetic (Type 2).
Although it can be managed in most cases, there is no cure for diabetes. Better to motivate yourself now to do things to avoid it, then to be forced into doing those things to avoid the dire health consequences once you have it.
Think of all those new healthy capillaries growing as you exercise, and keep going.
> More posts to help you with EXERCISES
> More posts to help you with DIABETES
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter