In Australia there are currently over 1 million people with Diabetes, approximately 100,00 new diagnoses each year and it was made a National Health Priority in 1997. Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to utilise the available insulin effectively. This results in increased blood glucose levels. Type 2 Diabetes occurrence is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, alcohol intake and overweight/obesity. Luckily, however, many of the risk factors for diabetes are modifiable and you can decrease your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices. Diabetes can have severe complications if not managed appropriately including nerve damage of the lower limbs (peripheral neuropathy), eye disease (diabetic retinopathy), kidney disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes and this is why it is so important to manage this chronic condition. Numerous studies have proven the beneficial effects of exercise in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.
But what type of exercise should you be doing?
Research shows that when managing Type 2 diabetes, a combination of both aerobic and resistance exercise should be used. Both aerobic and resistance exercise (due to muscle contraction) utilise mechanisms within the cells of our muscles that increase the sensitivity of insulin resulting in an increased uptake of glucose from the bloodstream and therefore decrease blood glucose levels. The effect of this exercise-induced insulin sensitivity increase has been shown to be present up to 16 hours post-exercise. Due to this post-exercise response not having an everlasting effect, an integral component of effective exercise intervention is consistency. Exercise for type 2 diabetes should optimally be performed every day to assist the effects of insulin, with the possibility of reducing or deferring certain early-stage diabetes medications with consistent and continued exercise intervention.
Furthermore, it is evident that a combination of both exercise and healthy eating has an even more beneficial effect than just exercise alone. An adjunct healthy diet can assist in areas such as decreasing blood glucose levels and weight loss, as well as reducing the risk of comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.
A combination of both aerobic and resistance training is optimal for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes or some of the above-mentioned risk factors, talk to your doctor about your risk of diabetes and discuss getting a referral to see an Exercise Physiologist for guidance on appropriate exercise intervention.
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