Hopefully, your answer is YES! Participating in regular physical activity can have a significant positive effect on the management of type II diabetes by helping maintain or manage blood glucose levels while decreasing risk of diabetes complications. It also has a range of other benefits including decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, preventing unhealthy weight gain, and improving mental wellbeing, while improving life expectancy and the overall quality of life.
So, what is the recommended amount of exercise? The National Physical activity guidelines outline that individuals should participate in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, with individuals with type II diabetes encouraged to increase up to 210 minutes. I know what you are thinking, sounds like a bit right? Let us have a little closer look! That is only 30 minutes, 2% of your day on at least 5 days of the week. Want to hear another perk? That 30 minutes can be performed in 10-minute bouts, so let’s not use ‘having no time’ as an excuse. I am sure we all have a spare 10 minutes here and there whether it’s during your lunch break, while watching TV or waiting for dinner to finish cooking.
What is aerobic exercise, and how do we ensure we are working at a moderate intensity? Aerobic exercise focuses on improving our cardio-respiratory fitness (i.e. heart and lungs) and is typically performed in the form of walking, swimming, or cycling, but can include a range of other activities such as dancing or rowing. Now we have got the type of exercise covered, let us see how we can determine if we are achieving a moderate intensity. Moderate intensity can usually be determined by an increase in our heart rate and breathing, by reaching a moderate intensity, we are increasing our cardio-respiratory fitness. A great way to determine if you are working hard enough is to try and sing a song. When exercising at a moderate intensity you should be able to hold a conversation but unable to sing a song due to an elevation in your breathing rate. While I am sure you believe you have a great singing voice, hopefully next time you’re exercising, you will be able to say you cannot sing!
The National Physical activity guidelines also outline that we should participate in resistance training at least 2 times per week, incorporating all large muscle groups. Resistance training is what most would commonly refer to strength or weight training, which requires the muscle to move against a force such as gravity, resistance bands or weights. Resistance training is designed to increase the body’s strength, power, and muscular endurance by making the muscle move against a greater resistance than it normally would. When performing resistance training, we should aim for 8-10 exercises, performing 8-10 repetitions of each for 2 -4 sets. It is also important to use a resistance or load that is challenging, your muscles should feel like they are starting to fatigue and require a short rest at the end of each set.
There you have it, a bit of an outline of how much exercise we should be aiming to achieve each week to help assist with the management of type II diabetes.
Written by Alex Parsons