Diabetes & Exercise – how do the two affect each other?

Are you one of the 1.7million Australians with diabetes? Currently diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in Australia, with one Australian developing diabetes every 5 minutes!

We here at The Movement Therapy Group are here to help you improve your health and better manage your blood sugar levels. We’re here to guide you along a path to improved health and wellbeing.

What are the different types of diabetes? People with diabetes are classed as having Type 1, Type 2, or Gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when cells in your pancreas, called beta cells, stop producing the amount of insulin your body requires for normal daily function and insulin injections are needed to manage this. Of all diabetics in Australia only 10% have Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, effecting 85% of diabetics in Australia. The remaining 5% of diabetics have Gestational diabetes which effects around 14% of all pregnant women and is usually diagnoses at 28 weeks gestation. Type 2 and gestational diabetes both have a similar cause and similar management. In these scenarios the pancreas still creates insulin however the amount produced does not meet the bodies demands, leaving the person with an increased amount of sugar circulating in their blood stream. People with type 2 and gestational diabetes also have insulin resistance which means their body has become less sensitive to insulin. This means more insulin is required to achieve the same result of transferring sugar from the blood stream in to muscle and liver cells for storage. Type 2 and Gestational diabetes can be managed with lifestyle interventions such as exercise and diet, medications, or a combination of the two. For most women with Gestational diabetes their blood sugar levels return to normal soon after birth, however these women are at a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

What about pre-diabetes? If your doctor has said you have pre-diabetes this means your blood sugar levels when you first wake in the morning or 2 hours after meals are too high, and you are on the road to developing Type 2 diabetes if you don’t change your diet or begin exercising more.

So how does exercise help? An individually designed exercise program created by an Accredited Exercise Physiologists can help manage your blood sugar levels and help prevent many of the complications that can accompany diabetes.  Australian GP doctors recommend exercise and a healthy diet make up a core part of diabetes management. Did you know exercise can:

  • Improve the effectiveness of insulin
  • Assist with weight management
  • Improve blood sugar level regulation
  • Reduce your risk of developing heart disease and lower your blood pressure
  • Improve the transportation of sugar from your blood stream in to muscles and your liver for storage
  • Reduce the risk of complications such as peripheral neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy
  • Prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes
  • For Type 2 diabetics on lifestyle management exercise can prevent the need to begin taking insulin medications
  • If you had Gestational diabetes regular exercise reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes


How do I get started? Before getting started there are a few special considerations. If you are regularly taking insulin you need to consider the timing of exercise with the timing of your medication to prevent your blood sugar levels becoming too low. This is something you can discuss with your GP, diabetes educator, or us as Accredited Exercise Physiologists. As a diabetic it is very important to ensure you exercise in good footwear, as diabetes reduces your ability to feel blisters developing and slows the healing of any blister wounds on your feet. It is a good idea to have your feet regularly checked by a podiatrist to maintain optimal foot health. If you haven’t seen a podiatrist before there are experienced podiatrists available locally at LiveWell Podiatry in Seaford

I hear you asking, what type of exercise is required to gain these benefits? A good mixture of regular aerobic and strength training is the key to optimal results. But do not fear, this does not mean endless hours in a gym.  Exercise options include brisk walking, home based exercise or group exercise programs. As Accredited Exercise Physiologists we are trained to create an exercise program that will improve your diabetes management but also take in to consideration any other issues or injuries you may have. Curious to learn more? We’d love to meet you and guide you along the path towards achieving amazing health benefits. Give us a call or book online to get started today!


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Our passionate team includes a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Holistic Nutritionist and Massage Therapist. We love what we do and helping our clients get back to what they love.

Call us on 03 9010 5615 to book an appointment.