Type 2 diabetes: Gym-based physical exercise for people with diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle diseases in older Australians, and sometimes it could lead to complications and significantly reduce our quality of life. Fortunately, we have discovered that through exercise and an active lifestyle, we could maintain a better quality of life.

Current research has shown that any type of exercise that help make you stronger and fitter is going to be beneficial towards controlling your blood sugar level. As our muscles play an important role in insulin control, having higher muscle mass helps keep blood glucose in check. 

Can diabetes be managed by exercise?

It is important to exercise all parts of your body, but it would be particularly important to exercise your lower limb, as these muscle groups are larger and will play a better role in absorbing blood sugar. It is also important to train the lower body for those individuals who have diabetes-related neuropathy.  

Also, that is not to mention the multitude of benefits of having increased strength – better quality of life, reduced risk of falls, and increased community engagement. Training the larger muscles of the upper body such as the chest and back will also help with blood glucose control. Some simple gym exercises to start with can be seen in the video below.

What type of exercise is best for type 2 diabetes?

Currently the Australian government suggests that weight training would help with blood sugar control, though less effectively than aerobic exercises.  But, to reap the most reward, a combination of both aerobic exercises and strength exercises are recommended. 

The guideline recommends a “moderate to vigorous” resistance training program, of 2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions of 8-10 exercises per session. It is also advised to have a 1–2-minute rest in between each set to ensure that you are adequately recovered for the next set. It is also recommended to include activities within your day to break up long periods of sitting.

A few ways to do this is to include a 10-minute walk at lunch time, park your car further away from your office, walk to the drink station at work every 60 minutes and incorporate a sit-stand desk in your office.

Pilates: is Pilates a good exercise for diabetics?

On the other hand, Pilates is also a gentler approach towards exercise, especially if you don’t have a background in strength training.  Studies have shown that Pilates is helpful in controlling blood sugar levels in the elderly, and generally speaking, it is easier to pick up, especially in a friendly class environment.

If you have any questions or concerns, it is best to consult with a health professional, whether it be your GP, Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist.  Under the current Medicare program, if you are diagnosed with diabetes, you would be eligible for our Diabetes Program, with one one-on-one free initial assessment and eight exercise classes covered by Medicare.

It is completely normal to feel anxious about starting a new exercise routine, but at the end of the day, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at UniquePhysio, and we will be more than happy to help you with any concerns that you may have.

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