Everybody benefits from regular exercise. If you have diabetes, or are at risk of diabetes it plays an important role in keeping you health.
In Victoria, there are currently 300,000 people living with diabetes and every day, around 70 Victorians develop the condition.
Diabetes Victoria offers great support groups for people living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
As Exercise Physiologists we often get asked many questions about how physical activity can help diabetes management and to dispel myths associated with being active.
Below we help explain the benefits that exercise has with diabetes management and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how and why physical activity is beneficial.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is the name given to a group of conditions in which there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. Glucose is the body’s main source of fuel or energy. High blood glucose levels can affect many parts of the body but with the right advice, technology and medication diabetes can be managed well.
The different types of diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Diabetes and Exercise
Starting an Exercise Program
Before you start any regular exercise program it is best to see your doctor for a full medical examination and clearance. Regular activity is a key part of managing diabetes along with proper meal planning, taking medications as prescribed, and stress management.
Initially you want to take it slow. If you are not used to doing much exercise you need to start off slow and then slowly build up your duration and intensity.
If you do have any diabetes complications like retinopathy, nephropathy, you should talk to your doctor or an accredited exercise physiologist before you start increasing the intensity of your exercise.
When you are active and exercising, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it can work more efficiently. Your cells also remove glucose from the blood using a mechanism totally separate from insulin during exercise.
Exercising consistently can lower blood glucose and improve your A1C. When you lower your A1C, you may be able to take fewer diabetes drugs or less insulin.
What type of exercise can I do?
Anything that gets you moving!
If you’re not used to being active and exercising, you can start with 10 minutes of walking each day and slowly build as your fitness improves. It’s all about being more active throughout the day, the more you move the better.
Aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, balance exercises, and activity throughout the day are the types of activities we recommend for people with diabetes.
The most important types of exercise for managing diabetes
- Strength Training
- Aerobic Exercise
Strength training makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose. It helps to maintain and build strong muscles and bones, reducing your risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn – even when your body is at rest. Strength training is also important for everybody to prevent muscle loss and tone as we age.
Aerobic exercise helps your body use insulin better. It makes your heart and bones strong, relieves stress, improves blood circulation, and reduces your risk for heart disease by lowering blood glucose and blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels.
Is there a best time to exercise for my diabetes?
First thing to do is find the time. The best time to exercise is the time that you will actually do it. Choose a time that suits your lifestyle and makes it easier for you to engage in activity. Exercising in the morning is often a good tactic to use so that other aspects of life don’t get into the way. If it is the first thing you do every morning, it will leave the rest of the day to manage all other aspects of your life. If you leave it until the evenings or after work, often other tasks can get in the way and exercise gets forgotten.
For people with type 1 diabetes or those on insulin/sulphonylureas it is also often recommended to exercise in the morning to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.
If you are exercising in the morning it is important to eat some form of carbohydrate with your breakfast before exercise to avoid a drop in your blood glucose levels.
Moonee Valley Health and Fitness is proud to be part of the Exercise is Medicine Australia Network.
Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions about our Exercise Physiology service
Local Awareness in the Melbourne Community
Here at Moonee Valley Health and Fitness we’re aiming to help Melbourne learn more about diabetes and how exercise and lifestyle can help.
The good news is that the risk of developing those complications can be minimised if people with diabetes have the necessary tools and information to manage their condition.
We are here to help you!
For more information about exercise, diabetes type 1 or 2 and different populations, speak to our exercise physiologists at our Melbourne Clinic at Moonee Valley Health and Fitness.
Get in touch with us today and book an initial consultation with our Melbourne Exercise Physiologist’s. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent and treat diabetes.
For more information:
Visit the website: diabeteswontstopme.org.au to learn more about diabetes and Diabetes Victoria’s programs and services. Or visit the Diabetes Australia and Diabetes Victoria websites.