If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, or are at risk of developing this condition, regular exercise should be a top priority when thinking about your management plan moving forward.
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic health condition that causes your body to become resistant (non-responsive) to the normal effects of a hormone called Insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls and regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in our bloodstream.
When we eat food, Insulin is released into the bloodstream to help move glucose from the bloodstream into cells to be used as energy. People with Diabetes have problems moving blood glucose into cells as they have developed a resistance to respond to Insulin properly, increasing blood glucose levels found in the bloodstream. Increased blood glucose levels over time lead to negative health problems such as increased blood pressure, heart problems, eye problems and weight gain, to name a few.
When we start exercising, our body becomes better at using Insulin and we become more sensitive to the hormone. This means that the glucose in our blood stream is better transported across to our cells to be used for energy. This reduces blood glucose readings, reducing the risk of developing Diabetes. Exercise also helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure, body weight, and it reduces the risk of developing other chronic health conditions.
Before starting to exercise, it is important to start slowly and increase the intensity over time. Remember to consider different types of exercise such as strength, aerobic and flexibility.
Strength based exercise is important as it helps to build muscles in our body. Muscles like to use glucose as their primary source of energy, this helps to reduce the amount of glucose stored in the bloodstream. Aerobic training is important for keeping your heart, lungs and blood vessels strong and healthy.
Flexibility training helps you to maintain your independence and keep your muscles and joints working nicely. Stretching to touch your toes, or reaching overhead are really important movements for your everyday activities so it is important to practice regularly.
Over time, aim to complete at least 150 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise per week as per the current Australian Health guidelines. Not only will this help you reduce the need for medication to manage Diabetes, it will make you an overall healthier person and lead to better health outcomes, reducing the risk of developing chronic health conditions.