Why an Exercise Physiologist can be a diabetes patient’s best move

Why an Exercise Physiologist can be a diabetes patient’s best move teaser image
Did you know that Australia has the second-highest rate of diabetes-related amputations in the developed world – at an alarming 4400 amputations a year?

In fact, there’s an Australian diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes and if you are one of them, it can be overwhelming trying to put in place the lifestyle changes that need to be put in place to manage this disease.

READ MORE: Why kettlebell swings are a sedentary person’s best friend

It’s important to build a wellness team of professionals around you – experts in exercise, health and nutrition – who can show you where to start, what to do and how.

Top of your list should be a visit to your local expert Exercise Physiologist, who is specially trained to understand the ins and outs of diabetes and how exercise can help manage this serious disease.

Move it or lose it when it comes to diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, daily exercise is critical to successful management because it boosts cardiorespiratory fitness and strength, helping the insulin in your body work more effectively. It also has well-recognised beneficial effects on your mood, mental health and brain function.

But which weekly exercise routine is best to start with? The answer is one that combines cardio and resistance/strength training … but at the end of the day, it’s the exercise routine that you are going to stick with to deliver 150 min/week of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.

Cardio exercise: Whether it’s cycling, swimming, walking, dancing, hiking or jogging, cardio exercise is anything that gets your heart-rate pumping over a sustained period – aiming for 30 minutes a session at least.

It helps to improve your cardiorespiratory function. This includes walking, cycling, swimming or even dancing! For individuals with diabetes, it is recommended to perform aerobic exercise on most days of the week, aiming for 30 minutes each session.

However, for those who may be discovering exercise for the first time, it doesn’t matter if you manage just 10 minutes when starting out – as long as you don’t give up and keep trying.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your fitness and mobility will improve – and you’ll be hitting your 30-minute target within weeks.

Resistance/strength training: This is so important to keep our muscles strong and healthy, perform our daily activities, and prevent falls as we get older. Most importantly for diabetics, moving your muscles under resistance helps build muscle mass – resulting in greater glucose uptake.

Resistance exercises can be performed using your body weight, light hand weights, kettlebells,  resistance bands, or by using the equipment found at the gym.

If you have diabetes, you should aim to fit in some resistance/strength training 2-3 times a week, focusing on large, functional muscle groups.

The time that you exercise is important with diabetes

Yes, that’s right, the time that you choose to exercise is important, because if you have Type 1 diabetes requiring insulin, it’s important to avoid exercising during peak insulin action.

Otherwise, you face the very real risk of experiencing unwanted lows.

When you eat, your blood glucose levels go up. But remember, research has shown that if you exercise for 10 minutes immediately after eating, your blood glucose levels could be up to 5mmol/L lower than if you just sat on the couch watching TV. This is because exercise has a lasting effect; glucose continues to be removed from the blood stream by the muscles themselves (from being active) but also, ongoing training has shown to improve insulin sensitivity.

It’s also not recommended that you exercise just before sleeping.

Need help?

If you have diabetes, are pre-diabetic, or just need some expert advice about exercising safely with an illness or injury, we are here for you with all the evidence-backed answers.

Our team of expert and empathic Agility Rehabilitation Exercise Physiologists are here to help you move safely toward your goals.

You can contact us here, or call (08) 6162 8145