March Newsletter – Diabetes & Exercise

Did you know that exercise can not only reduce your risk of diabetes by up to 60% but also plays a vital role in the management of the condition?

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is a permanent health condition that occurs as a result of sustained elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. As a result the pancreas is required to release increasing amounts of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for keeping blood glucose levels normal. After many years of this cycle the pancreas is no longer able to produce sufficient amounts of insulin to regulate blood glucose levels, which begin to increase ever higher. These high levels of blood glucose cause damage to both small and large blood vessels and can lead to nerve damage in the peripheries (loss of sensation and circulation in the feet), eye damage and stiffened arteries. T2DM also increases the risk of developing other conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Two of the main risk factors are excess weight and physical inactivity. Over 80% of people diagnosed with T2DM are considered to be overweight or obese. The highest risk occurs when waist circumference is over 94cm for males and 88cm for females. This is due to excess fat stores producing toxins which make insulin less effective. This is particularly the case when weight is held around the middle of your body, impacting on the function of your vital organs.

T2DM is managed through lifestyle modification, that is diet and exercise and if necessary through prescription medication. Keeping a blood glucose diary can also help you keep track of how you are managing your condition and learning how your body responds to exercise and different foods.

There is a range of different medication prescribed in regards to diabetes management. It is important to understand how your medication works and how it will relate to exercise. This will help you to avoid hypoglycaemic episodes (low blood sugar) and better understand when, how often and how intense you should exercise.

Exercise is a key component to lifestyle management of this condition. Aerobic and resistance training are both effective but in different ways. For example aerobic exercise has been show to improve insulin sensitivity – the hormone released in response to glucose intake to remove sugars from the blood. Resistance training helps increase muscle size increasing the amount of energy that can be stored in the muscle itself rather than the blood stream.

If you or anyone you knows has T2DM talk to an Exercise Physiologist at Motion Health. We have a T2DM group that is eligible for medicare rebates with a GP referral along with 1:1 and group exercise physiology session that can be structured to assist your diabetes management. If you already attend Motion Health speak to us about how this can be included in your current exercise classes.