Diabetes is becoming an ever-prevalent disease in the lives of Canadians. In 2013 the estimated rate of diabetes in Canadians was 8.6% of the population and it is projected to rise to 10.8% by 2020 (Canadian Diabetes Association, 2015). Along with the increase in diabetes rates there is also an increase in awareness of the role exercise can play in managing, treating and preventing diabetes. Here are 5 things you may not be aware of about diabetes and exercise.
- Aerobic physical activity performed at a moderate to high intensity can result in a substantial decrease in morbidity and mortality in those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Aerobic exercise guidelines for diabetics:
- 30 mins/day of aerobic activity
- If overweight, low impact activities such as walking, elliptical or stationary cycling are encouraged
- Resistance training improves glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. Resistance training increases lean muscle mass which helps to increase glucose tolerance.
Resistance exercise guidelines:
- 3 sessions per week using weight machine and/or free weights
- Perform 1-2 sets of 15-20repetitions choosing 8-10 exercises to target all muscle groups
- Blood glucose levels should be carefully monitored prior to starting an exercise session. Here are some general guidelines.
|Blood glucose level||Recommendations|
|< 4.0mmol/L||Exercise not recommended|
|4.4 – 5.6 mmol/L||Ingest a carbohydrate snack prior to exercise|
|> 13.3 mmol/L||Exercise not recommended, wait for blood glucose levels to decrease|
- Hydration is important for anyone beginning an exercise session, however diabetics must be extra cautious to not become dehydrated and maintain proper hydration during an exercise session, especially if exercising in any heat. Water exercise can be wonderful, as it is easy on the joints and can usually be performed throughout the hot summer months.
- Times to avoid exercise if you have diabetes:
- During times of peak insulin activity.
- After an insulin injection
- Avoid exercise in the evening before bed
Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. (2013). Canadian Diabetes Association. Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes Retrieved from: http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/browse/Chapter10#sec3
Canadian Diabetes Association (2015) Diabetes: Canada at the Tipping Point – Charting a New Path | Policy Backgrounder. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.ca/publications-newsletters/advocacy-reports/diabetes-canada-at-the-tipping-point
Author: Gillian Hogg, BKin, CSEP-CPT