More that 1.5 million (6%) of Australians aged over 18 years reported having type 1 or type 2 diabetes in 2017. This figure is almost double the amount of 3.3% reported in 2001. We want to see this trend reversed and it is clear that exercise should be a primary part of any diabetes management plan.
Exercise has a variety of benefits for individuals with diabetes, from blood glucose management to reducing the risk factors for related co-morbidities. We understand that it can be difficult to know exactly what to do when trying to first implement your diabetes exercise plan, so we have provided our 5 top tips to help you along.
1. Exercise Timing
When implementing exercise into your daily routine, timing is an important factor as it has a huge effect on exercise quality and overall results. It’s recommended for most individuals with diabetes that exercise is performed within 30 minutes of beginning a meal.
Research has found that blood sugar levels peak around 90 minutes after consuming a meal. Timing exercise sessions to begin 30 minutes after a meal will allow for better control of blood glucose levels and counteract the hyperglycaemic effect from the food. This will allow for less fluctuation in blood-glucose levels and assist in attaining a more consistent healthy blood sugar range.
2. Exercise Frequency and Duration
The current ACSM guidelines for exercise for individuals with diabetes recommends exercise on most days of the week for around 30 minutes a session. This is due to the long lasting blood-glucose lowering effect of exercise.
Blood glucose levels will remain somewhat suppressed for up to 24 hours following physical activity. This is the exact reason that exercise is recommended on most days of the week and dependent on intensity and modality, should be around 30 minutes in duration.
3. Exercise Modality
The current ACSM guidelines recommend using a complete mix of modalities (resistance, cardiovascular, stretching) for best practice management. The research does, however, heavily support specific modes of exercise as the most important in a management plan.
Consistent cardiovascular exercise is currently supported as the most important. This is primarily due to the blood glucose lowering effects and the further impacts it has on cardiac risk factor reduction. Best management of your diabetes does, however require a mixed modality approach to exercise. Current international guidelines can be found here.
Diabetes Australia recommend doing about 30 minutes of exercise every day. If this is not possible, then this time can be divided in 3 x 10 minutes sessions throughout the day. If you need to lose weight, 45-60 minutes everyday.
Watch this video from Diabetes Australia for more information about diabetes and exercise.
4. Meal Timing
Meal timing for managing your diabetes is important in ensuring you don’t allow your blood glucose levels to fluctuate too much. Eating before exercise allows you to increase your energy for exercise whilst also using exercise as a way to lower your blood glucose levels and maintain a more stable range.
Outside of exercise, meal times should be adequately spaced to ensure you maintain a relatively stable blood glucose range and remain within the ranges your GP or specialist suggests. For a more tailored program around your meal timing and food intake contact us to make an appointment with Kristie Pieters, our accredited dietician and diabetes educator.
5. Blood-Glucose Monitoring
The final tip in managing your diabetes is frequent blood glucose monitoring. This is especially important for those recently diagnosed who are still understanding how their blood glucose levels react to different foods, stresses and daily activities. Whilst lowering blood glucose levels is usually the primary focus for individuals with diabetes, reducing the number of hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic fluctuations is important in reducing the risk of further cardiac complications.
Exercise should be a primary component of your diabetes management plan. Ensuring you are both effectively implementing it and best utilising other factors such as meal timing and glucose monitoring are key factors behind minimising cardiac risk factors and best controlling your diabetes.
For more information about diabetes and exercise visit Diabetes Australia here, or contact us to see any of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists or Accredited Diabetes Educator and Dietitian for a more tailored management plan. Call us on 07 5456 1599 and make an appointment today.