There is a ton of great, new information in the 2018 Diabetes Canada Physical Activity guidelines chapter. Here are some of the highlights:
1. Avoid prolonged sitting. Try to get up briefly every 20 to 30 minutes. Bluntly put, this is because we now know that habitual, prolonged sitting is associated with an increase risk of death and major cardiovascular events (eg heart attack).
2. While it is still recommended to engage in 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise and at least 2 sessions per week of resistance exercise if possible, it is now recognized that smaller amounts of activity still provides some health benefits. Something is better than nothing!
3. Make use of strategies that increase motivation, such as setting specific physical activity goals, and using self monitoring tools (eg a pedometer that counts steps). (My editorial comment – some of these devices can also remind you to get up if you’ve been sitting for too long.)
4. Medical clearance: It was previously recommended that anyone with diabetes who is about to begin a program more vigorous than walking should have medical clearance first. This has been relaxed a little – now, this need for clearance is more focussed on middle aged and older people who wish to undertake prolonged or very vigorous exercise, and of course, anyone with symptoms suggestive of cardiovascular disease.
People with more advanced diabetic eye disease should be treated and stabilized before vigorous exercise, and people with severe diabetic nerve disease in their feet/legs should inspect their feet daily and wear appropriate footwear. It is also recommended to ideally see a qualified exercise specialist before starting strength training (eg weights) to avoid injury.
5. There is a great list of suggested strategies to help people with type 1 diabetes reduce the risk of lows with exercise.
Bonus Practical Stuff:
Resources for people with diabetes: (scroll down to Exercise) – including info on how to plan and maintain physical activity, videos on resistance exercises, and more!
Enjoy – and have fun!