Impaired management of blood sugar levels affect a large percentage of today’s population, with many people diagnosed by their doctors with either pre-diabetes (a term for someone with a high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes) or Type 2 Diabetes itself due to uncontrollable high blood sugar levels. An estimated 5% (1 in 20) of Australian adults over 18 years of age are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a percentage which increases with age (up to 15-20% of people 75 years or older). Poorly managed Type 2 Diabetes can lead to an increased risk of many other conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart and kidney problems and impaired nerve function in our eyes or peripheral limbs. However, both Type 2 and pre- diabetes can be well managed through appropriate lifestyle changes, which positively, can prevent or delay the requirement of medication to lower risks of developing other conditions.
In combination with a healthy diet, physical activity and exercise are a key stakeholder in diabetes management. While physical activity refers to any movement or activity completed throughout the day (e.g. gardening, walking the dog, playing with the kids at the playground), exercise refers to purposefully structured physical activity such as resistance training or cardio sessions. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming requires energy (i.e blood sugar) to fuel our muscles during and after movement, thus lowering the levels within our bloodstream. Resistance exercise for Type 2 Diabetics is tailored towards increases in muscle size, as we are then able to store more of the sugars from our blood as “ready to use” energy within our muscle, thus again lowering the levels within our blood.
Research evidence suggests that for the ongoing management of Type 2 diabetes we should complete 210 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity over each week and include 2 sessions of resistance exercise within each week. When broken down across the week, that’s only 30 minutes of activity each day needed to help manage Type 2 Diabetes and decrease the risks associated with high blood sugar levels. Accredited Exercise Physiologists are experts in exercise and lifestyle management for many health conditions including Type 2 Diabetes. They can help you with increasing your activity levels through writing either home or gym exercise programs tailored to each individual’s needs, goals and health conditions.