• Living with Diabetes

Being active

While we all know that being active is good for our health, both physical and emotional, it’s important to be aware that getting active and staying active can help you manage your Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or help you reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Being active will:
• help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
• increase the amount of glucose used by the muscles for energy, so it may sometimes lower blood glucose (sugar) levels
• help the body to use insulin more efficiently – regular activity can help reduce the amount of insulin you have to take
• improve your diabetes management (particularly Type 2 diabetes)
• strengthen your bones
• reduce stress levels and symptoms of depression and anxiety
• improve your sleep

How much activity do we need to do?

The good news is all physical activity helps – whether you are a busy parent, teenager, sat at a desk all day or in your retirement years, doing any amount of activity can be beneficial. As well as activity in your daily routine such as getting to work, gardening or doing the housework, if you’re able, try to do some exercise. You can start with something gentle, like walking, and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise, five times a week.

Whatever your age, the less time you are sedentary the better, except for time spent sleeping. Department of Health guidelines recommend:

Early Years (Under-5s, not yet walking)
For children not yet walking physical activity should be encouraged from birth, through floor-based play and water-based activities.

Pre-School (Under-5s, capable of walking) 180 minutes (3 hours) per day spread throughout the day. Most UK pre-school children get 120-150 minutes each day so see about adding another 30 minutes to each day.

Children & Young People (5-18 years)

At least 60 minutes moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise each day, ideally more. Three days a week should include vigorous-intensity activities that strengthen muscle and bone.

Adults (19-64)
150 minutes (2.5 hours) each week of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. Muscle-strengthening activity should also be included twice a week. Activity can be spread out through the day into bite-size chunks, eg 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Older Adults (65+)
As above for adults but post-65, additional health benefits include maintaining cognitive functions and reducing risk of falls.

Activity can be spread out through the day into bite-size chunks. One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes, five days a week.

What is moderate physical activity?
Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can’t sing the words to a song. You should be slightly out of breath.

What is vigorous intensity physical activity?
Vigorous-intensity activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Exercise and blood sugar levels
Activity may affect your blood sugar levels both during and after exercise. Regular checking will help you to understand how activity affects your blood sugar levels. Test your levels more often before, during and after any physical activity.

Source: Diabetes UK (https://www.diabetes.org.uk/)

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