Common symptoms of DM include dizziness, tiredness, headaches and it can cause vision loss. Having diabetes comes with a responsibility of daily management. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to neuropathy (a loss of sensation), particularly in the feet, which can cause decreased balance and increase the risk of infection - proper foot care and footwear is therefore very important. It is suggested having diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke up at four fold and can also affect mental health.
Alarmingly, according to Diabetes Australia, diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day! It is estimated that 1.7 million Australians currently have diabetes and this prevalence is increasing.
There is strong evidence that type II diabetes mellitus is more likely to develop in people who are insufficiently active. Exercise training, often in combination with other lifestyle strategies, has been proven beneficial in preventing the onset of type II diabetes.
The role of exercise for diabetes is a prime example of how exercise can be used as medicine, when properly and safely prescribed. Exercise has a direct hypoglycaemic effect and can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake among many other benefits. Put simply, exercise lowers blood glucose levels by promoting movement of ‘sugar’ from the blood into the cells.
It is recommended by Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) that people with diabetes mellitus or pre-diabetes accumulate a minimum of 210 minutes of moderate intensity or 125 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week, with no more than two consecutive days without training. Both aerobic and resistance based training have been shown to be very beneficial with a combination of both types of training being particularly beneficial for glycaemic control.
Seeking advice from a relevant health professional and exercising with a professional, particularly at first, is very important as there is a risk of post exercise hypoglycaemia, where the blood glucose levels become too low. It is strongly recommended due to the high prevalence of comorbid conditions that exercise programs be written and delivered by individuals with appropriate qualifications, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
Written by Matthew Azzopardi (Corrective Exercise Practitioner)