Physical activity is vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By becoming more active you can improve your general health, quality of life and diabetes management.
Why should I take part in physical activity?
Participating in regular physical activity helps to:
- Improve insulin sensitivity (makes insulin work better and lowers blood glucose levels)
- Improve blood pressure and lower blood fats, reducing the risk of heart disease
- Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
- Increase bone strength and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Improve quality of life and sense of wellbeing
- Slow down the ageing process.
Lifestyle choices don’t cause type 1 diabetes
We answer some of your frequently
asked questions about physical activity
How much physical activity should I be doing?
The amount of physical activity you should do depends on your current level of health and fitness. It is best to consult a health professional such as a GP, Exercise Physiologist or Diabetes Educator to allow you to find the optimum amount and type of exercise appropriate for your current state of health and fitness.
It is generally recommended that you do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week in addition to your normal daily activities.
This type of activity will cause a noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate and possibly a light sweat but you should still be able to comfortably talk.
This amount of continuous activity may be unachievable to start with. If you are starting out, your activity can be accumulated over the day with the end goal being to complete 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise in one session.
Set yourself small achievable goals and look for ways to increase your activity in all day to day tasks ie. walking for 10 minutes at a time, three times a day.
If weight reduction is one of your desired outcomes, more than 30 minutes of exercise is required each day. Speak to an exercise physiologist for more information.
What type of activity should I be doing?
It is important that you select an activity you enjoy. The best physical activity uses the large muscles in your body (ie. thighs, trunk and shoulders) and includes activities such as brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming and light resistance training.
Special considerations for people with diabetes
- Discuss your exercise intentions with your doctor. The doctor will consider your blood glucose management, your heart and blood vessels and any diabetes related complications before advising the best physical activity for you.
- Test your blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise particularly when starting a new program. This reveals how your body responds to exercise.
- Wear supportive shoes that fit well and check your feet daily.
- Do not exercise if you feel unwell.
- If you take insulin or certain diabetes tablets, always carry some foods or fluids containing carbohydrate with you. Read more information about hypoglycaemia.
- People with diabetes are generally discouraged from strenuous physical activity when blood glucose levels are above 15 mmol/L.
How can I keep motivated?
Keeping an exercise diary will assist in the management of diabetes medication when exercising. Things to record in your diary include: your feelings before and after exercise along with the times and duration of physical activity. You may also like to document your corresponding blood glucose levels and any advice given to you from a health professional about any developments, improvements or changes.
Getting active with friends and family can help keep you motivated. Set yourself small achievable goals that enable you to monitor your progress.
A pedometer measures the number of steps you take and can act as a great motivational tool. You can use it to measure your total activity for the day. If you take insulin to manage diabetes, read our balancing food, activity and insulin information sheet.