In Australia, diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions across the country. Over 1.2 million Australians were diagnosed with diabetes in 2017-2018, with this number expected to rise over the coming years. Approximately 85-90% of these people have type 2 diabetes, significantly affected by poor lifestyle choices and habits.
The Dangers of Type 2 Diabetes
One of the biggest problems faced by people with diabetes is hyperglycaemia or high blood glucose levels. This occurs because of poor insulin sensitivity or efficiency. This vital hormone is essential for the body to use glucose as fuel and energy. Without insulin, glucose would remain in the bloodstream and gradually increase in concentration.
Exercises for people with Diabetes
Over time, constantly having high blood glucose levels can lead to significant health complications. Additionally, those with poor lifestyle choices, such as consuming a poor diet, not exercising enough and being overweight, are prone to worse outcomes. Examples of these dangers include :
- A shorter life expectancy
- Kidney damage
- Loss of vision
- Nerve damage
- Developing heart disease
- Foot and leg problems (e.g. infections, ulcers, etc.) that can even lead to amputation
- Poor sexual health (e.g. decreased fertility, erectile dysfunction, etc.)
- A high risk of heart disease and stroke
Benefits of Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for type 2 diabetes. People have even reversed their symptoms when incorporating exercise with weight management and healthy eating.
With just one bout of exercise, blood sugar can return to normal and stay this way for up to 72 hours . It’s well known that exercise increases insulin sensitivity, which helps the body more effectively absorb the circulating glucose in the bloodstream. With repeated adherence to regular exercise, these positive changes can be maintained.
As a result, these changes can lead to long-term health benefits, such as :
- Normal blood glucose levels
- Improved weight
- Improved physical fitness
- Reduced risk of complications
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Better overall wellbeing
Best Type of Exercises for Diabetes Type 2
Any type of exercise is better than none. However, the research  shows that combining aerobic and resistance/strength exercises is particularly beneficial for type 2 diabetes.
Aerobic exercise refers to any activity that incorporates continuous movement which gets the heart rate higher. Examples include jogging, running, cycling, swimming or anything that gets you panting. These activities help improve multiple systems in the body, such as increasing insulin efficiency, reducing body weight and using up the circulating glucose to fuel movement.
Resistance training is intended to develop muscle mass. This can include strength-building exercises, such as squats, push-ups and bridges. Extra weight, such as dumbbells and barbells, can also be used to increase the rate of growth. Having greater muscle mass conveys numerous benefits, such as lowering glucose levels directly, improving cardiovascular health and increasing insulin efficiency.
How long should you be performing these exercises?
According to Exercise and Sports Science Australia, those with type 2 diabetes should perform regular aerobic exercise throughout the week.
Depending on the intensity, at least 125-210 minutes of aerobic exercise should be performed during the week. Additionally, they have suggested that these sessions should be performed at least every second day.
Additionally, 60 minutes of resistance training should also be performed weekly over 2 sessions every week. Try to have at least 1 day in between sessions to allow the body to recover.
At Move Better for Life, we are here to help you manage your diabetes. Once restrictions allow, our amazing exercise physiologists will run Gluco-cise Classes which focuses on living well with diabetes. These are weekly exercise classes for anyone that is pre-diabetic or diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Exercises and education group sessions will be delivered in accordance to the updated Australian guidelines. If you are interested in joining this class once restrictions allow please contact us to go on a waiting list.
Depending on the current circumstances, individual sessions can be booked with one of our exercise physiologists, this can be done within the comfort of your own home or face-to-face.
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