As a fitness professional, I am sure you are aware of a vast range of benefits that regular exercise and physical activity can have on the body. There are general benefits which apply to everyone and then benefits which are specifically suggested by scientific evidence to support various chronic health conditions. It is HUGELY important that we are aware of the benefits which are most specific to our individual clients so we can share this knowledge as well as integrate it into our sessions so we achieve long term change.
Let’s explore some specific benefits of regular exercise and physical activity for the chronic metabolic condition Diabetes.
Many people that develop Type 2 diabetes are put on medication to improve insulin sensitivity. This medication means the body becomes more responsive to the hormone insulin travelling within the bloodstream and as a result more efficiently takes excess glucose to storage. It works well for a lot of people. Here’s the thing…EXERCISE CAN HAVE THE SAME EFFECT!
Therefore, if exercise can improve insulin sensitivity too, then this is the number 1 benefit that everyone should be aware of to support diabetes management for the long term. In fact, a fair amount of science suggests that exercise can actually prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes in the first place as well as manage the condition for those diagnosed – with improved insulin sensitivity being a large contributor. Improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin is very beneficial for Type 1 diabetics too!
Based on this point alone, I strongly encourage everyone to find a form of activity/exercise that is enjoyable and stick to it.
Not only can exercise have this ongoing effect on the body’s responses to insulin, but exercise requires glucose to fuel activity/exercise. Therefore, any excess glucose travelling in the bloodstream can be decreased through movement. This again has been scientifically shown to support diabetics to control their condition. Even after one exercise session, blood sugar levels can decrease which is an encouraging start for clients. If they can then keep this up, they will support the various mechanisms in the body working to control their glucose levels throughout the day.
Unfortunately, the risk of developing other chronic health conditions increases with diabetes, particularly heart disease risk. The good thing about exercise is that the benefits apply to a greater number of conditions; therefore, exercise/activity can reduce and control hypertension, cholesterol, weight and the musculoskeletal conditions.
This means a huge benefit of exercising with diabetes is the prevention of other conditions which could otherwise significantly increase their risk of complications.
Of course, each of these benefits so far depends on the frequency and intensity of exercise. Benefits can be achieved with low level activity/exercise but more significant benefits occur when a moderate level of intensity is performed on a regular basis. Aiming to achieve the CMO exercise guidelines would be best practice for a range of individuals.
The list of benefits is extensive but these 3 key benefits are the most specific ones for supporting diabetic clients. To achieve long term activity/exercise habits , we must share this knowledge in a way that supports their understanding and personally motivates them to want to become more active long term.
To learn more about Diabetes & Exercise, look at our online CPD training designed for fitness professional.