Diabetes and exerciseIt has been well established that regular exercise has beneficial effects on one's health and well-being. People of all age groups are advised to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week to keep fit and active. Exercise boosts energy and metabolism and ensures flexibility and strength in the muscles. It also helps avoid falls due to aging in the elderly. Exercise can help control your weight and lower your blood sugar level. It also lowers your risk of heart disease, a condition that is common in people who have Diabetes. Exercise can also help you feel better about yourself and improve your overall health.A very important part of Diabetes control is your daily exercise routine. But before pulling out those gym shoes, make sure you approach your fitness regimen the right way. For people with diabetes, exercise does entail minimal risks, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Exercise changes the response of your body to the insulin secreted. Regular exercise makes the body more sensitive to insulin, and with sudden spurts of exercise, the blood glucose level may get too low (called hypoglycaemia).You may need to check your blood glucose level before and after exercising. Your doctor can tell you what your blood glucose level should be before and after exercise.Monitoring is essentialFitness trackerThe dictionary definition of a fitness tracker or an activity tracker is a type of electronic device that helps monitor some type of human activity, such as walking or running, sleep quality or heart rate. An activity tracker can be a smartwatch, or other small device linked to a local area network or otherwise connected to an IT system. Activity trackers can measure the number of steps walked, the resulting heart rate, blood pressure, and even connect to devices measuring blood glucose levels.Some wearable devices can send data directly to a smartphone or personal computer.Any wearable fitness tracker needs the person using it to input physiological details such as their weight, height, gender to help the tracker make better sense of the data that it collects. This personalization helps in processing the data generated by the fitness tracker. There are a number of sensors which may be added to a tracker, but most commonly motion sensors are used to determine body movements.A smartwatch is a type of fitness tracker that uses touchscreens, offers apps and often records your heart rate and other vital signs. Many smartwatches can do exactly what most popular fitness trackers do, but with the added benefit of receiving notifications and other mobile phone functions.Smartwatches that are 4G or 5G enabled use mobile data. Smartwatch will ordinarily use Bluetooth technology to communicatewith your phone when it is within range. When the smartwatch is out of range (approximately 10 metres away) it will use mobile data to send and receive calls and messages. Newer trackers and smartwatches measure body temperature and O2 saturation.Uses and benefits of using a fitness tracker include:Keeps track of your progressA fitness tracker helps you keep up with your goals as regular reminders boost your motivation levels. A fitness tracker lets you record your exercise statistics and generates reports to track progress. It helps in setting fitness goals such as meeting a basic regular exercise activity goal, burning a specific number of calories in the day and even drinking a set number of glasses of water.Monitoring your healthA fitness tracker lets you watch and record your health parameters, daily burned calories and step counts. Self-tracking allows you to stick to a healthier diet, exercise more and sleep better.Helps you stay motivatedA fitness tracker helps you determine habits which can help you achieve your fitness goals. Using a fitness app associated with the fitness tracker can reinforce motivation by showing the individual exactly how much of a goal has been met. It is easy to use and very convenient to measure different parameters.Science behind fitness trackingFitness trackers use a three-axis accelerometer as their primary sensor. This advanced piece of technology measures acceleration based upon start of motion, end of motion, and intensity. Fitness trackers collect data that can then be processed with an internal computer chip or a smartphone application. The data is processed with proprietary algorithms that convert the data into useful statistics, such as number of steps and miles walked. Some fitness trackers have additional sensors. Optical sensors can measure your pulse by shining a light on your skin.Sensors can even measure wrist movements during sleep to let you know if you're getting quality sleep.For your fitness tracker to be able to present you with accurate information, you need to program it with your physiological information. For most fitness tracker models, information such as your height, weight, and gender will suffice. You can view the data by linking the tracker to a smartphone or computer that carries the app associated with the fitness tracker. The app will process the data and present it to you as easy-to-understand stats.Basal metabolic rateThe basic information you have entered about yourself will be used to calculate your personal basal metabolic rate. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories you burn as your body performs basic (basal) life-sustaining function.BMR defines your basal metabolism rate which makes up about 60-70 per cent of the calories we use. This includes the energy your body uses to maintain the basic bodily functions like the beating of our heart, cell production, respiration, maintenance of body temperature, circulation and nutrient processing. BMR is influenced by a number of factors including age, weight, height, gender, environmental temperature,dieting and exercise habits.Calories burnt every day The fitness tracker measures the calories you burned based on two things: The measurements taken with its internal accelerometer and your basal metabolic rate, which is determined by algorithms and the data you provide.Activity level/ counting stepsAn accelerometer installed in the fitness tracker will track your activity level each day. This device tracks your movements throughout the day, and it interprets those movements based on the initial data that you provide when you set up your fitness tracker.Heart rateThe small green LED light, in combination with a light sensor helps to measure and calculate your heart rate through a processcalled photoplethysmography (PPG). As blood actually absorbs green light your tracker is able to determine your heart rate by measuring the difference in light absorption at any given time.SleepThe accelerometer detects when you have been laying still for a period of time and begins counting that as sleep. Some trackers can also provide information on sleep routine and stage of sleep and wakefulness.AccuracyThe accuracy of your fitness tracker is going to depend on several factors, including:The model used: Accuracy of your data depends on which algorithm the fitness tracker uses. Accuracy can vary for various devices.Data inputs: If accurate data has been provided to the device then the more accurate the measurements will be.A simple way to verify accuracy is to wear your fitness tracker and carry your smartphone in your pocket and compare your steps at the end of the day. The reading from your phone should be closest to your actual steps, so you can determine how accurate your wrist device is based on that. Another way to improve accuracy of steps counted is to wear the device on the non-dominant wrist. This will help prevent the tracker from confusing arm movement with actual steps. Heart rate measurement accuracy improves when you are at rest. With regards to accuracy it is important to answer these questions; . Is the device accurate enough for your purposes?. What are you hoping to get out of your fitness tracker?If your aim is to transition towards a healthier lifestyle, then a basic to mid-range device will meet your needs. Ideally fitness trackers should not be the sole determinants to identify or monitor heart related issues or sleep problems. It is important to consult a physician if you believe you have reason for concern.Fitness trackers and DiabetesThe management of Diabetes can be easily disrupted as changes in everyday life have a profound impact on blood glucose control. Even small changes in people's lives such as forgetting to eat or increased physical activity throughout the day can have a major impact on blood glucose levels.Minor changes to daily schedule often go unrecognised leaving people confused as to why their blood glucose levels have drastically changed. Type 1 Diabetes is especially difficult to manage. Optimal blood glucose control is essential in reducing long-term complications of Diabetes such as eye, heart and kidney damage and foot infections leading to amputations.Fitness trackers help manage diet, heart rate, calorie intake, and even blood oxygen. Becoming aware of these measures can help people with Diabetes manage their blood glucose level. Smartwatches cannot currently monitor blood glucose levels directly, but you can link external CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) systems to your smartwatch to display your blood glucose levels, This information will be as accurate and reliable as any Continuous Glucose Monitoring System (CGMS).Dexcom's G6 model is the brand's most up-to-date glucose monitor. It uses a sensor to continually measure glucose over a ten-day period. The G6 can connect to smartwatches to display data on these devices. It can also send this information to Android and iPhone smartphones through Bluetooth. The G6 will monitor glucose levels and send alerts when they are too low. Children over the age of 2 are eligible to use the device.The Freestyle Libre 2 connects with your phone to display the blood glucose readings. The data is then stored in the smartphone app, but you can download compatible apps that let you see the same data on your smartwatch.Medtronic insulin pumps connect with a CGM called the Guardian Connect. The Medtronic mobile phone app provides real- time readings of blood glucose. The 3rd party app GuardianMonitor allows you to display your blood glucose levels on the Apple Watch 7 and 8.Choosing a fitness trackerThings to consider prior to buying a fitness tracking deviceBattery lifeOne of the most important things to consider when buying a wearable device is its battery life. If your fitness tracker can last up to several days without charging this is a major plus point.Water resistanceBefore buying a fitness tracker, it's essential to check if it is water-resistant or not because you don't want your watch to stop working when you're swimming or taking a shower. Most devices are waterproof up to a certain depth, but some can be submerged in water without any damage, so make sure to double-check before purchasing one.Compatible devicesSome trackers might only work on specific devices, so it's important to check that your phone or tablet is compatible with the device you're considering. Beyond displaying notifications from your phone, a smartwatch is only as good as the apps it supports. App ecosystems vary and they're tied to either Apple's or Google's environments.Sensor usedThe sensor or device used to measure your blood glucose isn't always compatible with all trackers or smart watches. So if you're using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), make sure the watch you buy is compatible with that sensor type.GPSMost smartwatches include a GPS for tracking your location or receiving location- specific alerts. This can be a helpful feature to have on hand.To concludeSmartwatches and fitness wearables provide insight into users' activity levels and their health. This helps the user to stay motivated. Smartwatches can be easily worn during various sports and activities.The user can better understand the impact of different activities on his or her fitness levels. It is yet to be seen how a smartwatch can help further ease healthcare in different health conditions.Disclaimer: The Editorial Team of Diabetes Health magazine has no conflict of interest to disclose. We do not endorse, support or recommend any particular product, service or device. Readers are requested to seek medical advice before using any application or device.