Diabetes and Exercise
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is characterized by prolonged and elevated blood sugar levels as a result of resistance to insulin, or poor production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the body to help take up sugar from our blood and store it around the body.
We can separate the condition into two main types:
· Type 1 – largely genetic
· Type 2 – largely behavioural
Type 2 representing 85-90% of all cases. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is largely dependent on family history, however there are many risk factors that can be modifiable including:
· High blood pressure
· Poor diet
· Lack of Physical activity
· Overweight or obesity
· Increased abdominal weight.
The current management of Type 1 and 2 diabetes include diet, medication and exercise.
What is the role of Exercise?
The main role of exercise is to stimulate and improve insulin release, lower blood sugar levels, and improve insulin sensitivity. Often purposeful exercise is the final piece missing to help people manage their diabetes.
How much exercise is enough exercise?
Unfortunately, daily walking or having a physically active occupation may not be enough to stimulate the response we see from purposeful exercise.
The recommended types and intensity of exercise for those with Type 1 and 2 diabetes is:
· Cardiovascular exercise – 3-7 days per week for 20-60 minutes, working at 50-80% of maximal effort.
· Weight training – 2-3 days per week, 8-10 exercises, working at 60 – 80% maximal effort.
There is some research that suggests that heavy weight training may be more effective than high intensity cardiovascular exercise.
Where do I start and who can help?
All this exercise can sound incredibly daunting and may seem like a very big change to incorporate into daily life. If you’re starting from scratch, changes should feel manageable and be made incrementally.
If you are concerned about other health conditions, you GP is a great place to start and can clear you to perform vigorous exercise.
Our exercise physiologists are university trained to manage chronic conditions including diabetes. This includes appropriate and research-based exercise prescription, as well as monitoring signs and contraindications to help you exercise safely at higher intensities.
For the months of winter, we are offering our Winter Warrior exercise program which is entirely bulk billed if starting with an enhanced primary care plan given to you by your GP.
If you’re not sure where to start, or looking for that extra motivation, our skilled exercise physiologists can help you to explore and discover safe and effective exercise suitable for you.