Exercise plays a vital role in the prevention and management of diabetes. Together with a healthy diet and lifestyle, exercise can significantly improve quality of life for a person living with diabetes and help to reduce the risk of any health complications that are associated with diabetes.
What are the other benefits of exercise?
1. A healthier heart: The heart is a muscle that needs exercise to stay healthy. It adapts to exercise by becoming more efficient at pumping blood around our body. Exercise also keeps arteries and blood vessels that carry that blood more flexible to promote good circulation.
2. Stronger bones: Exercise, particularly weight bearing physical activity and resistance training, can increase bone mineral density to reduce the risk of, or help in the management of, osteoporosis and osteopaenia.
3. Increased support for joints: Carefully selected exercise can increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles that surround the body’s joints.
4. Improved mental health: Exercise and keeping fit can lift mood, improve sleep patterns, increase energy levels, as well as help manage feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise can change the levels of specific chemicals within the brain, lowering stress hormones and raising other “feel-good” hormones including endorphins and serotonin.
5. A healthier weight and waistline: Exercise can assist in weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. Weight management plays an important role in preventing and managing lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes.
Tips for exercising when you have diabetes:
• Make sure you have consulted with your exercise physiologist or doctor before commencing an exercise program.
• If you are at risk of hypoglycaemic episodes, such as if you take insulin or sulphonylureas, you should check your blood glucose levels before and after exercise (and during if the exercise session is longer than 30min) to ensure they are within a safe range. Remember that your blood glucose may drop during the following 24 hours after exercise too.
• Be prepared for hypos. If you are at risk of hypoglycaemic episodes (see point above), prepare a high glucose snack in case your blood glucose level drops.
• Start slowly and keep all exercises comfortable and safe.
• Check feet and wear good footwear. Check your feet daily for any blisters, warm areas or redness and do not exercise if you see any of these changes. Consult your doctor to examine these immediately. It is also important to wear correctly fitted, comfortable and supporting sports shoes while exercising.
• Keep hydrated before, during and after exercise, as dehydration can lead to an elevation of blood glucose levels. As your blood glucose levels rise, one of the body’s responses is to further increase urine output, which further elevates BGLs.
How can Glebe Physio help me?
Our Exercise Physiologists at Glebe Physio are professionals who are trained in the safe and effective prescription of exercise for people with conditions such as diabetes. At Glebe Physio, we offer one-on-one appointments to individually assess your situation and tailor an exercise program for you, as well as fully supervised classes for those who enjoy exercising in a group environment.