What is Diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus refers to a number of chronic conditions that share the common feature of elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels (WHO Consultation, 1999). For the body to work properly it needs to convert glucose from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is essential for this conversion to take place.

In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts, so glucose cannot be used for energy. Instead it stays in the blood causing elevated blood glucose levels. These blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed however it is complex and requires daily self care.


Types of Diabetes?

Type 1 – Is an auto-immune condition that destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without these cells the body cannot convert glucose into energy. Individuals with this type of diabetes need to replace the insulin using injections.


Type 2 – Represents about 85-90% of diabetic cases and is a progressive condition where the body becomes insulin resistant and/or slowly loses the capacity to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable lifestyle behaviours as well as genetic and family related risk factors.


Gestational – Is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia and is diagnosed when higher then normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy. It occurs because the hormones that help the baby grow also block the women’s insulin, causing her to have insulin resistance.


What is Pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher then normal but are not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetics have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Blood Glucose Levels


(Diabetes Australia, 2018)

Diabetic Exercise Guidelines

It is recommended that if these levels of exercise can not be achieved, for individuals to do what they can and progressively increase when necessary.

  • Aerobic Exercise
    • Accumulate a minimum 210min per week of moderate intensity exercise or 125min per week of vigorous intensity exercise (when appropriate) with no more then two consecutive days without exercising.
  • Resistance Training
    • Two or more resistance training sessions per week (8-10 exercises, 2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions) should be included in the 210 or 125min of moderate of vigorous exercise respectively.

Given the close association between type 2 diabetes and obesity the accumulation of >250min per week is recommended for overweight individuals, as this volume is considered necessary for significant weight reduction.


Safety During Exercise

  1. Check BGL before during and after physical activity if using insulin or sulphonylureas.
  2. If pre exercise BGL <4mmol/L, there is a risk of a hypoglycaemic episode
  3. Carry a rapid acting glucose source at all times (jelly beans or glucose drink)
  4. Wear supportive footwear and check feet daily to avoid foot injuries especially those with neuropathy.

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes book in with our team of Accredited Exercise Physiologist’s from Longevity who are trained to treat diabetic individuals.


Written by

Daniel Elias Arciuli

Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology (ACU)

Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (ACU)

Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Longevity Exercise Physiology