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diabetes and exercise

Exercise has many benefits for our lives including improving overall health, increasing strength, decreasing risk of chronic diseases and many more.  The benefits of exercise for those with Diabetes include potentially reducing medication and an improvement in overall well-being.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when there is an increase of glucose levels in the blood which the body cannot reduce. The pancreas produces insulin which is the hormone that uptakes glucose and removes it from the blood. In diabetes, the pancreas becomes damaged for a number of reasons (lifestyle, diet, lack of exercise) and

  1. Cannot produce sufficient amounts of insulin to uptake and remove glucose OR
  2. The body becomes resistant to insulin and it therefore doesn’t work properly

How can Exercise help?

Exercise has the ability to combat this.

When we exercise our muscles use glucose as an energy source. This improves the uptake of glucose without the help of insulin and lowers the blood glucose level. This sensitivity of the body and uptake of glucose can last for up to 72 hours after exercise! It is important, if not vital, to exercise regularly if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Guidelines suggest that you should not have more than 2 consecutive rest days. However, as exercise has the ability to decrease blood glucose levels, you do need to be careful of hypoglycaemic incidents and should measure your blood glucose levels before and after exercise to check your glucose level is not too low. The legal driving limit is a blood glucose level of 5.0mmol/L.

What type of exercise should you be performing?

  • Moderate aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling. These increase the heart rate and get the muscles working to take up glucose.
  • Large muscle group resistance based exercises such as – sit to stands, wall push ups and step ups
  • You should have no more than two consecutive rest days
  • Exercise together with a healthy diet will assist in weight loss

Remember! Slowly build up your exercise levels if you haven’t been active recently. Speak to your GP for advice or book in with one of our Exercise Physiologists. Our Accredited Dietitians can also help with a healthy meal plan and advice.

Amy McLaughlin – Exercise Physiologist