As Exercise Physiologists we get asked many questions about how physical activity can help diabetes management and to dispel myths associated with being active. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about how and why physical activity is beneficial.

1. How do I lose weight from my stomach?

Unfortunately there is no easy fix when it comes to shifting weight from your stomach. For waist reductions it is important you focus on a combined approach of healthy eating and regular physical activity, one without the other will have less of an impact.

To monitor your progress take measurements from all area of your body (waist, arms, legs, chest, hips) and don’t just rely on waist reductions. With this approach you may find that progress is happening and you are achieving results!

As your waistline grows so too does your risk of developing chronic disease, diabetes-related complications and insulin resistance. Abdominal fat, in particular visceral fat or fat surrounding your organs, is a predictor of chronic disease. A small reduction in waist circumference can equate to large reductions in associated risk. Making sure you are meeting or exceeding the minimum recommendations of 30 minutes on most or preferably all days of the week will help you to lose weight.

2. HIIT – What is it and what benefit does it have?

High Intensity Interval Training is a term that describes high intensity exercise interspersed with lower intensity exercise and can significantly improve cardiovascular fitness. This type of training is often used by people who are time poor because it involves working at high intensities for a shorter duration of time. Evidence remains ambiguous as to which is more beneficial, HIIT or traditional endurance exercises. It is important to consider that the level of intensity required when performing HIIT may be unachievable or unsafe for untrained individuals.

3. If I work out does that mean I can eat what I like?

The short answer is no. Exercise alone won’t lead to significant weight loss or greatly improved blood glucose management. When combined with a healthy eating plan however, it can help to normalise blood glucose levels, reduce dependence on medications and avoid age-related decline in muscle mass or muscle wastage associated with caloric restriction. Additionally, it has been shown that approaching weight loss with a combination of diet and exercise can help to maintain loses and achieve a healthy weight safely.

4. When is the best time to exercise for my diabetes?

There are lots of different ideas about the time of day to exercise however, the best time to exercise is the time that you will actually do it. Choose a time that suits your lifestyle and makes it easier for you to engage in activity. There is some research to suggest that exercising in the morning reduces risk of hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes or those on insulin/sulphonylureas. Exercising in the morning also means that it is completed before life gets in the way. Often exercise is put on the ‘back burner’ so getting it done first thing means the rest of the day is yours! If you are exercising in the morning it is important to eat some form of carbohydrate (steal from your breakfast so you don’t have an extra meal) prior to exercise to avoid a drop in your blood glucose levels.

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