Regular exercise is highly beneficial for people living with diabetes. Exercise can address many complications associated with Diabetes AND improve health, well being and physical function.
There are three main types of Diabetes Mellitus; Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes.
1)Type 1 diabetes (IDDM) Is caused by an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin in levels required to maintain optimal blood glucose levels. This is usually diagnosed in childhood.
2) Type 2 diabetes (NIDDM) generally develops later in life, and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases.
3) Gestational diabetes refers to a condition of high levels of blood glucose when pregnant. This also increases a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
All three refer to a condition in which the body cannot adequately control the levels of glucose in the blood. Ongoing high levels of blood glucose increases the risk of many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease.
Exercise, along with dietary intervention, is among the most potent therapy for the management and prevention of type two and gestational diabetes, and the management of type 1 diabetes.
Exercise will improve insulin sensitivity which results in improved glucose control. An Increase in muscle mass will allow for higher levels of glucose storage in the body and keeps the glucose out of the blood, reduces blood pressure, and aids with fat loss.
The two main types of exercise to consider are aerobic and strength training.
Aerobic exercise - build towards 210 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (walking, running, swimming, cycling etc).
This is higher than the normal recommendation of 150 minutes per week. This higher volume of exercise has been shown to produce significant benefits for people with diabetic complications.
Strength training will increase muscle size and strength and allows for increased glucose storage in the muscles. Higher muscle strength will also help to increase a person’s capacity to carry out activities of daily living, improve bone density and joint health.
Strength training – undertake at least 2x/week in order to achieve significant adaptations.
Different intensities of exercise will change the level of glucose in the blood. For example,
This is an important factor to consider if an individual has poor glucose control. It becomes especially important to measure blood glucose levels when exercising (often before, during and after) to ensure they are not risking hypoglycaemia (low sugars).
When first diagnosed or starting to exercise, it is important that the diabetic person has the support of a team of health professionals to design and monitor the exercise program and monitor the use of medication as required.
In the long term, regular exercise will lead to a reduction in blood glucose levels, and allow for better glucose control in their day to day life.
For more information, or to book a consultation, please call 02 6352 3131.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
M.Clin.Ex.Phys, B.Sp.&Ex.Sci, AEP, AES, ESSAM