Diabetes: What You Need to Know

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The Sports Injury Clinic

Rachel Mills

December 15, 2020

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In Australia, Diabetes is one of the highest chronic health conditions with around 1.7million people being diagnosed, and 85-90% of these cases classified as Type Two Diabetes.

Although we do not know exactly what causes type 2 diabetes, it is strongly associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Risk factors associated with developing this condition include; high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, insufficient physical activity, and poor diet.

Here are some facts that you should know about diabetes:

  • There are different types of diabetes
  • There are warning signs
  • Being active can reduce type two diabetes
  • Diabetes can also lead to secondary chronic conditions
  • Exercise can help manage diabetes
  • Diabetes can also present during pregnancy

How does exercise help manage diabetes?

Current research tells us that exercise is extremely important for individuals with diabetes. Exercise helps improve cardiorespiratory fitness and strength, which allows our insulin to work more effectively. Moving your muscles under a greater resistance also promotes an increase in muscled mass and therefore great glucose uptake. Exercise also helps maintain/achieve a healthy body composition, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Not to mention the added associated effects that exercise has on our mood, energy levels, stress and sleep.

What type of exercise is best?

There are many different forms of exercise, but it is important to remember that although a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise have the best overall effect, there may be modifications to each individual.

Aerobic exercise: Continual movement to assist in the improvement of cardiorespiratory function such as walking, cycling and swimming. It is recommended that you perform aerobic exercise on most days aiming for 30 minutes per session. However, if you are just starting out break down to more manageable timeframes, while slowly progressing to 30 minutes.

Resistance exercise: Maintaining strength is not only important for muscle and joint health but also help with performing daily activities. Resistance training can be performed different ways, including body weight, free weights, resistance bands and machines. For individuals with diabetes, it is recommended to participate in resistance training 2-3 times per week with a range of large, functional muscle groups being used.

When is the best time to exercise?

It is important that if you are taking insulin to avoid exercising during peak insulin action as this could result in unwanted "lows". Remember it is always best to see you doctor or health care professional prior to commencing a new program to ensure your own safety.

Getting the right support?

Whether you're currently active, inactive, at risk of diabetes or have been diagnosed with diabetes exercise can always help. Speaking to an exercise physiologist who is specifically trained to understand the complexities of type two diabetes is one of the first steps to take when actioning your diabetes plan.

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