Physical activity and type 2 diabetes mellitus-guidelines

According to the American, Canadian and South African Diabetes guidelines, both endurance (150 minutes per week) and resistance exercise (performed 2 or 3 times per week) should be recommended for most people with diabetes. Walking is often the most popular and most feasible type of endurance exercise in overweight, middle-aged, and elderly people with diabetes. For those who struggle with pain upon walking, recumbent cycling or swimming may be an option.

If you have Diabetes, exercise has to be on your to-do list.
Get started with these 9 basic tips:

Before you get active

1. Get your doctor’s OK If you do not normally exercise, or if you have risk factors for heart disease (e.g. high blood pressure), your doctor may encourage you to start with short periods of low intensity exercise (E.g. walking) and increase the intensity and duration slowly.

2. Ease into it. If you’re not active now, start with 10 minutes of exercise at a time, Gradually work up to 30 minutes a day.

3. Try make exercise a habit. Just like you take medicines at the same time each day, you should exercise at the same time each day. It will help you get into a regular exercise routine. Remember, if you miss your daily dosage of exercise, it is as if you have missed your daily dosage of blood pressure or cholesterol lowering tablets.

4. Check your blood glucose levels and carry snacks if necessary. If you plan to work out for 60 minutes or more, check your blood glucose levels regularly during your workout, so you’ll know if you need a snack. If you are on insulin, you may have to check your blood glucose levels after some workouts, so that you can adjust your dosage if needed. Always keep a small carbohydrate snack, like fruit, fruit juice or a glucose sweet on hand in case your blood glucose levels decrease.

5. Inform your exercise partner. Exercise with someone who knows you have diabetes and knows what to do if your blood glucose levels decrease. Also, wear a medical identification tag, or carry a card that says you have diabetes, just in case.

6. Non formal activity. Individuals with diabetes should be encouraged to increase the amount of activities of daily living, such as housework, gardening and walking around shopping centres and the office at regular intervals.

7. Footwear. Wear running shoes (even if you walk), that are in good condition and are the right type for your activity. For instance, don’t jog in tennis shoes, because your foot needs a different type of support when you run.

Check and clean your feet daily. Let your doctor know if you notice any foot problems, such as blisters, corns or ulcers.

8. Hydrate. Drink water before, during, and after exercise. Drink on average1litre of water per hour of exercise.

9. Risks. High intensity endurance or resistance activity is not suitable for some people with poor blood glucose control, uncontrolled high blood, pressure or underlying heart disease. Remember, there is no additional benefit to exercising at an intensity that makes you feel uncomfortable, or ill. Choose less intense activities if necessary.

Get moving

Don’t be afraid to get active. If you have not been active for quite some time, or if you are beginning a new activity or exercise programme, take it gradually. It’s best to start slowly with something you enjoy, like taking walks or riding a bicycle. You have lots of options, and you don’t have to go to a gym.

Think about something you’ve always wanted to try, or something you enjoyed in the past. Sports, dancing, yoga, walking and swimming are a few ideas. Anything that raises your heart rate counts. Scientific evidence strongly shows that physical activity is safe for almost everyone. Any level of increased physical activity is beneficial. Moreover, the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks.

01 February 2021

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