Exercise Smarter, Not Harder

Monday, 4 March 2019

We know exercise is a powerful medicine in helping to manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but we often don’t know how much we need to do, or the type that is right for our body. Throw into the mix a bung knee or a frozen shoulder, and then it just gets too hard right?

Work smarter, not harder

Keeping active is the key to a longer, healthier life, so how do we make sure our activity levels don’t decline when we are faced with a niggling pain or an injury? As the old saying goes, we need to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to exercise.

Exercise comes in many different forms, so pick the right one for you.

Walking is not for everyone, especially if there are injuries from the hips down to the knee, ankle or feet. If you can relate to aches and pains in this spot, take the pressure off your legs and pick something that moves your legs or arms from a seated position, like a stationary bike or arm cycle using some foot pedals on a bench. Water activities are also a good option for a pain-free environment.

The cross over effect

Interestingly with strength exercise, if you are only able to work one arm or leg due to injury – the other side still benefits! This is referred to as the ‘cross over effect’. These benefits are thought to be a result of neural adaptations. To achieve this cross over effect, studies have shown that the following is optimal:

  • 3-5 sets
  • 8-15 repetitions
  • Rest 1-2 minutes between sets
  • Eccentric exercises

Eccentric means that the muscle is lengthening while under tension or load. For example, your bicep (arm) muscles shorten to lift the weight up, but lengthen to control the weight on the way down which is the eccentric phase.

Work around the injured area

So pick strength exercises that work around the injured area, and try not to give up all together. If the pain is related to wear and tear of joints, the best thing to do is focus on building the muscles that support the joint, to improve movement and reduce pain.

See an Exercise Physiologist

Still not sure what to do, and worried about causing more damage? Go and see an Exercise Physiologist. With a four year university degree, they are the most qualified to prescribe you the correct exercises for your body, taking into consideration your diabetes management. Speak to your doctor about how you can use Medicare or private health to make this as cost effective as possible.

You can also visit www.essa.org.au to find an exercise physiologist in your area or give us a call on 1300 138 588 and we can find one for you. It’s all about working with exercise to make it smarter for your body, not harder. When you execute exercise correctly it is the best medicine for the body!


You don’t need to be an athlete, you just need to move a little more than you did yesterday.

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