How can exercise help my Type 2 Diabetes?

I get asked this question a lot and if often surprises people when they learn how exercise can be an effective tool to manage type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes as defined by Diabetes Australia is a ‘progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. We do not know what causes type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Type 2 diabetes also has strong genetic and family related risk factors’.

Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as a ‘lifestyle’ condition and hence the modifiable risk factors, it is something a person can control through diet and exercise, in conjunction with appropriate medication. A good, tailored exercise program will involve both cardiovascular and resistance training to increase calorie expenditure and reduce blood glucose levels. You may have heard the term insulin and it is an important hormone that helps move the glucose in your blood to your muscles where it is used for energy. If you are sedentary, this stored energy turns into excess body fat, leading to weight gain.

Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming or cycling are excellent ways to increase your heart rate and help your body burn more energy (calories). This in turn will aid with a reduction in bodyweight which will help with blood glucose levels. It is recommended to perform a combination of continuous, slower cardiovascular exercise as well as more vigorous exercise each week. This is also important for general cardiovascular health and other conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol.

Resistance training is a great way to help reduce blood glucose levels, as it stimulates the cells in your muscles to become more sensitive to insulin – which means more glucose in your blood actually gets into the cells that need it for energy production to help with exercise. This helps to lower the glucose in your blood. Regular resistance training also helps to increase the size of the muscle cells, which means there is a bigger area for the glucose to travel to and be used. If you were to measure your blood glucose levels soon after finishing your exercise session, it would be lower than when you started, so the benefit happens immediately.

Exercise is an important tool to help manage type 2 diabetes and prevent future complications associated with it, and if you speak to your exercise physiologist they will recommend adhering to the current physical activity guidelines when starting to implement an exercise program.

Read More Here

Written By Susannah Mah-Chut