Staying active with diabetes

Why are Indians more prone to diabetes?
July 18, 2020

In people with type 2 diabetes, healthy eating and physical activity/exercise should be undertaken alongside other therapies. When performed consistently, exercise improves glucose control and lowers or maintains body weight.

Benefits of physical activity for people with type 2 diabetes

  • Improve blood glucose control, enable insulin ‘to work better’
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Maintain or lower body weight
  • Improve mood, well-being and self esteem
  • Improve musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis

Frequency and intensity of exercise[1]

Guidelines are the same as for people without diabetes:

  • Aim for 150 min per week of moderate-intensity exercise, split over at least 3 days
  • Include 2 to 3 sessions per week of resistance exercise
  • Keep sessions short at the beginning; do not push yourself too hard
  • Start with a warm-up and finish with a cool-down (allow 10–20 min for each)

How intense should exercise be?

When exercising, you should be able to hold a conversation without being breathless

What is the best type of exercise for me?

The best type of exercise for you is something that you enjoy and is convenient:

  • Fast-paced walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dance

Wear comfortable clothes and proper-fitting shoes when you are exercising.

Reminders for when you exercise[2]:

Check glucose values before and after exercise, and during intense exercise

Drink water before, during and after exercise

High or low blood sugar allows you to anticipate hypo/ hyperglycaemia and to take corrective action

Exercise and Complications:

  • People with diabetes and complications require specific advice
  • Patients with problems absorbing their food are at risk of low blood sugar
  • Overweight people should avoid exercise that may increase the risk of joint or ligament damage

Always tell yourself that exercise and physical activity are an important part of diabetes control.

Decide to start and maintain a programme that will be fun – it will improve your quality of life!

[1] ADA. Diabetes Care 2017;40(suppl 1):S1–S138; Siga et alDiabetes Care 2006;29:1433–8

[2] ADA. Diabetes Care 2004;27(Suppl. 1):S58–62; Siga et alDiabetes Care 2006;29:1433–8