Understanding diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that impacts our body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications such as neuropathies or retinopathies. Therefore, it's important to know how to live and manage diabetes safely and correctly.

There are many types of diabetes, all with similar health implications. Of these, type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent making up 85-90% of all diabetes cases.

Risk factors for diabetes

The good news is that type 2 diabetes is the most preventable. Risk factors include: family history of diabetes, being over the age of 55, overweight/obesity, insufficient exercise, hypertension, poor diet, etc.

Diabetes is known as the invisible disease as it cannot be seen if anyone has it and therefore the health effects of it are often underestimated and failure to manage and treat this condition ongoing can lead to a higher risk of:

  • Heart attacks and strokes
  • Blindness
  • Kidney damage
  • Amputations

The role of exercise in managing diabetes

Clients with diabetes can exert a positive influence on muscle metabolism, energy balance and bodyweight through sport, dietary changes, physical fitness and trained muscles. A more active lifestyle, particularly in the early stages of the disease, can have far-reaching effects and diabetics can reduce the impact of the disease and delay or even avoid medication.

Strength training for diabetes management

Strength training, long overshadowed by endurance training, is now recognized for its significant health benefits. Recent research shows that strength training is nearly as effective as endurance training. It reduces insulin resistance, enhances glycemic metabolism, and improves body composition. The key indicator, HbA1c, is improved by both strength and endurance training. Combining both types of training is the most effective therapy for Type 2 diabetes mellitus, as recommended by Diabetes Associations in Germany and the United States.

Diabetes exercise guidelines

For lifelong diabetes management, we recommend consistent strength training over 6-12 months, focusing on large muscle groups to build lean body mass and boost metabolism. Address any secondary conditions or injuries that may hinder training and aim for higher training frequency initially (three times per week, then two times during maintenance). A lifestyle change incorporating regular exercise and a balanced diet can enhance type 2 diabetes symptom management or reduce the risk. Both aerobic and strength training improve blood glucose control, weight management, blood pressure, and muscle mass. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week (3-4 days) and a minimum of 2 days of strength training, with sessions every other day to maximize insulin resistance reduction. The greater the exertion, the more significant the effect on metabolism, so strive for moderate to high intensity.

How an Exercise Physiologist can help those with diabetes

Accredited Exercise Physiologists provide exercise and lifestyle programs for the prevention and continual management of chronic diseases such as diabetes. If you have pre-diabetes indicators, an Exercise Physiologist has the expertise to create a plan to reduce or delay the onset on diabetes. Additional benefits a qualified Exercise Physiologist can provide include improvement in heart health, rehabilitation following a cardiac arrest, overcoming persistent and severe pain, increase recovery following cancer treatment and provide a general improvement in general health and wellbeing. 

Group classes led by an Exercise Physiologist for diabetes

A number of Kieser clinics offer weekly diabetes management group classes. Classes are run in small groups and are available to both Kieser members and non-members. An assessment with an Exercise Physiologist needs to be conducted before joining any group class. Clients attending the classes will benefit from an improved understanding of:

  • How Type 2 Diabetes effects you and why
  • How food, physical activity and medication influences your diabetes
  • Signs and symptoms of Diabetes
  • Complications of poorly managed Diabetes
  • Effective self-management skills

If you're interested in joining Kieser's diabetes management group class, click here to request a booking for an initial assessment with an Exercise Physiologist.

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Exercise Physiology