Physical Activity and Exercise

Physical activity includes all movement that increases energy use, whereas exercise is planned, structured physical activity. Exercise improves blood glucose control in Type 2 diabetes, reduces cardiovascular risk factors, contributes to weight loss, and improves well-being. Regular exercise may prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes development. Physical activity and exercise should be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual (1).

Encourage adult patients to try to get at least 30 minutes a day of moderately easy activity. This does not have to be done all at once; short bouts of about 10 minutes can be accumulated.

Encourage children and young patients to try to get at least 60 minutes of moderately easy activity (or combined with more intense activity) a day. All types of activity count.

Encourage your patients at every visit to be more active.

Here are some general tips and guidelines to help them.

1. Choose fun and enjoyable activities. Variety is key. If you get bored of one activity try a different one. All that matters is that we keep moving and stay active. Why not try walking – it is a great starting point, simply because it is something that is easy to do on a continual basis.

It's good to vary your walking routes, the parks/woods you visit etc. Have a look at www.parkrun.ie or www.getirelandwalking.ie to see local opportunities to join up with others.

2. Check out www.getirelandactive.ie and look for something new in your locality.

.3. If living in the Loughlinstown area you might think about MedEX. This is a programme offering supervised group exercise classes to people with many different medical conditions for a small fee... It is great fun, takes place in a friendly and safe environment and is run by trained staff. It doesn’t matter what your current level of fitness or activity is, or what illness you have. All you will need to attend is a note from your GP

4. Encourage resistance exercise (using weights/dumbbells) either in the gym or at home. This can be part of the daily routine. Examples of these exercises can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSnYWGqtPy8 (Chair based exercises for Type 2 diabetes).

5. Set one main goal to achieve. The personal achievement will increase the enjoyment for you. This goal needs to be realistic such as being able to walk for a certain distance or to cycle without stopping. You will be amazed at how quickly your level of fitness improves and how quickly you can achieve these goals. Remember to progress slowly onto the next goal.

6. Use your diary to schedule your daily exercise onto your to-do list. Think of it as simply something you need to do as part of your day. At the beginning of each week, plan your activity for the week. Write down when you want to be active and for how long. If you look at the diary at the end of the week it will help you identify reasons for not sticking to your proposed plan and could help you to stay motivated.

7. Stand and move more during the workday. Look for opportunities to stand up and move more at work. Can you take phone calls while standing? Is it possible to have a walk and talk meeting?

8. Using a pedometer or step counter can be a really helpful way of monitoring how active you are during the day. It can also help you to set small goals for yourself. You can buy a pedometer or download an application on your phone e.g. ‘pacer’.

1 .Colberg S. R., Sigal R. J., Yardley J. E. et al (2016) Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Care Nov; 39 (11): 2065-2079 https://doi.org/10.2337/dc16-1728