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.
With ageing your body experiences a natural loss of muscle and bone mass and regular exercise can slow or even reverse this loss. It can also improve mobility and balance, help reduce muscle and joint pain and reduce the risk of falls. Keeping active has a huge bearing on your quality of life. Regular exercise helps people maintain independence and social interactions as well as helping to prevent dementia and depression.
There are many ways to get active and it’s never too late to start. Some people believe they are ‘too old’ or ‘frail’ but almost every activity can be modified to suit any fitness level. Brisk walking, gentle swimming, working in the garden, tai chi or dance classes are all great examples of physical activity.
The best exercise for any individual is the one they enjoy. Trying a range of activities that help to build strength, balance and flexibility are the best for overall health and wellbeing.
If you are unsure of what activities are suitable or safe for you, make time to visit an Accredited Exercise Physiologist for more individual advice.
The best exercise for any individual is the one they enjoy!
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, which reduces 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.
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.
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 and diabetes.
People with diabetes are generally discouraged from strenuous physical activity when blood glucose levels are above 15 mmol/L.
Read our Balancing food, activity and insulin sheet or the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults.