Diabetes & Exercise

Diabetes Mellitus is the chronic condition by which there is excessive glucose in the bloodstream as a result of the bodies inability to sufficiently produce or properly use insulin. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death with approximately one million people in Australia having been diagnosed with the condition.

Specific pathology tests are conducted in the diagnosis of diabetes and these include;

1. symptoms of diabetes and a non fasting glucose reading of ≥11.1mmol/l or,

2. fasting blood glucose ≥7.0mmol/l or,

3. two hour plasma glucose ≥ 11.1mmol/l during an OGTT

Diet and Exercise are central in the management and prevention of diabetes as they help to treat associated glucose, lipid, BP control abnormalities as well as aid in weight loss and maintenance.

Patients with diabetes should aim to achieve the following exercise recommendations, in order to target improvements in glycaemic control, help reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular health;

  • Cardiorespiratory Exercise

  • minimum of 150min moderate intensity Cardiorespiratory exercise each week or,

  • minimum of 90min vigorous intensity Cardiorespiratory exercise each week

  • aim for 30min per day which can be broken up into 10-15min increments

  • exercise at least 3 times per week, with no greater than a two day rest period

  • for most people with Diabetes, brisk walking is moderate-intensity exercise

  • when someone is working at a moderate intensity they should be able to talk but be puffing too much to sing

  • Resistance Exercise

  • recommendation of 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps involving 8-10 muscle groups

  • because Type 2 Diabetes is associated with an accelerated loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength and functional capacity, at least two sessions of resistance exercise is recommended per week with 48 hours rest between sessions that use the same muscle group

Studies have shown that both resistance and endurance exercise has been associated with a > 30% decline in the prevalence of hyperglycaemia over the 24-hour period after exercise.

In order to achieve significant reductions in excess body weight and improve clinical indicators, an intensive lifestyle program including exercise, with regular follow-ups are necessary. Clinical benefits can potentially be seen with weight loss of 2-8kg, particularly in the early stages of the condition.

It is recommended that sedentary individuals who wish to undertake exercise that is more vigorous than brisk walking or that exceeds the demands of everyday living, first undergo an assessment for cardiovascular disease risks or other conditions that might contraindicate specific type of exercise or predispose them to injuries.

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