As we come in to Diabetes Awareness Week in Australia, we want to stress the importance of exercise in living with this condition.
Diabetes isn’t just managed with the amount of sugar you eat or don’t eat: other lifestyle habits can make a huge impact on your health.
For those of you who don’t know what it’s about, diabetes is when a person’s body cannot cope with the levels of glucose in the blood.
Our bodies are meant to convert glucose (sugars we get from food) in to energy. With diabetics, the hormone required for this - insulin - is not produced, or is not produced in sufficient amounts.
This doesn’t just mean no sweets or chocolate. Glucose is in bread, fruit, milk, legumes and some vegetables.
There are three types of diabetes:
Type 1: The immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. There is no prevention and it is not affected by lifestyle.
Type 2: The body becomes resistant and loses the ability to produce insulin over time. It is more associated with lifestyle factors and can also be genetic.
Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women, where there are higher than normal glucose levels during the early stages of pregnancy: this goes away after the baby is born.
All forms of diabetes are increasing.
Evidence shows exercise helps with living with diabetes in a number of ways.
It actually helps insulin to work better, meaning you should be able to manage your glucose levels better.
It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, lowers your blood pressure, reduces risk of heart disease and reduces stress.
Before anyone jogs off to the gym, it’s worth noting that each body can work differently with diabetes. Other conditions associated with diabetes might mean you need to take a different approach as someone else. A health check is advised and a chat to our Exercise Physiologist to discuss an exercise programme.
Intensity can vary depending on your personal experience. It could range from weight training and water aerobics to gardening or walking.
You should be aiming for about 30 minutes of exercise a day, more like 45 to 60 minutes if you need to lose weight.
Diabetics can often have an issue with ulcers on their feet. Diabetes Australia recommends checking your feet before and after exercise and avoiding activities like running, which put added stress on your feet.
Other tips include taking extra carbohydrates before, during and after exercise to avoid hypoglycaemia. You should always monitor your glucose levels before you exercise to assess what you need.
It may also be necessary to adjust insulin levels, but this should be discussed with your doctor.
Our EP Isabella has started an exercise class once a week dedicated to those with diabetes, aimed at making sure you know how you can live an active lifestyle that helps you manage your condition.
You can book here now.
At Wolli Creek Physiotherapy & Pilates, you’ll be looked after by highly experienced and passionate young physiotherapists with a range of specialist skills and qualifications. We treat and heal all injuries and pain problems, for all kinds of people.