Exercise More Exhausting for Diabetics, But Pharmacists Can Help

Women with type 2 diabetes have greater difficulty with exercise than those without the condition.

Women with type 2 diabetes have greater difficulty with exercise than those without the condition.

While common daily activities such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries can be more challenging for this patient population, pharmacists can step in to help set goals for patients with type 2 diabetes.

“If pharmacists are providing physical activity counseling to their patients with type 2 diabetes, they should keep in mind the importance of encouraging patients to set personal physical activity goals that they can confidently achieve,” study author Amy Huebschman, MD, MS, told Pharmacy Times.

Researchers from the University of Colorado recruited 26 women with type 2 diabetes and 28 women without diabetes in order to examine the effects of diabetes on exercise in overweight, sedentary women.

The study involved all women because the effects of diabetes on cardiovascular function are typically worse among females than males, the researchers stated.

The participants reported doing less than 1 hour of physical activity per week. They were instructed to ride a stationary bicycle at a low to moderate pace.

During the exercise, the participants’ blood was drawn to measure plasma lactate levels. The researchers were able to determine the level of exertion each patient was applying through these blood samples.

Additionally, the women were asked to self-report how difficult the activity was.

The researchers found that plasma lactate concentrations were higher among the women with type 2 diabetes, and self-reported measures of exercise effort were higher, too.

These self-reported measures were associated with higher lactate, higher heart rate, and a hypertension diagnosis.

The researchers suggested that one reason why patients with type 2 diabetes have more trouble than their healthy counterparts has to do their ability to convert dietary nutrients into fuel to use during exercise.

Another possible reason for this struggle for type 2 diabetes patients is the way their bodies respond to exercise compared with those without diabetes. Problems in a patient’s ability to direct blood flow toward muscle during exercise may be at work.

Pharmacists can be a good resource to highlight the importance of exercise to patients with type 2 diabetes, Huebschman told Pharmacy Times.

“For people with type 2 diabetes who are not currently physically active, an important first step is to recognize the personal benefits of regular physical activity, such as controlling their blood glucose, reducing their risk for heart disease, improving mood, and improving arthritis pain,” she concluded. “Once people recognize how physical activity may benefit them personally, they are more willing to work through their personal barriers. Another important factor is to recognize that moderate intensity physical activity such as brisk walking is highly beneficial to all people’s health.”

These study findings were published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.