Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic condition developed as a result of varying levels of insulin resistance which causes hyperglycaemia (elevated blood glucose levels [BGL’s]). People who are at risk of developing T2DM with slightly lower levels of insulin resistance and hyperglycaemia are often diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), both of which are known as Pre-diabetes.
T2DM is a progressive disorder in the sense that it generally develops over several years before the damage and symptoms begin to really take shape. During this time, insulin resistance begins whereby the insulin starts to perform worse and worse, resulting in the ineffective management of BGL’s (i.e. too much glucose building up in the bloodstream). This insulin resistance then results in the pancreas working tirelessly to produce even larger amounts of insulin to try to achieve a certain degree of BGL management. Over time, the cells in the pancreas responsible for producing insulin start to wear out and destroy themselves, meaning that significantly less insulin is being produced. Generally, people have lost 50-70% of their insulin producing cells by the time they are diagnosed with T2DM.
Are you at risk?
The cause of T2DM remains largely unknown, however, it is associated with several modifiable risk factors. i.e. lifestyle factors and behaviours that we can willingly change to improve our health.
Modifiable risk factors that can contribute to the development of T2DM include:
The link to that is:
DID YOU KNOW?
280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes!
What are the signs and symptoms of this disease?
National Diabetes week was last week, and the campaign for 2019 was “it’s about time”. T2DM (and diabetes in general) is often diagnosed several years after the disease has already taken shape in the body, and unfortunately, unmanaged diabetes can result in the development of many other serious health issues such as heart disease, kidney failure and even blindness. The slogan “it’s about time” was to reinforce the idea that we need to put our health first and take the time to learn about the symptoms of diabetes, as well as visit our GP or relevant health professional for a check-up, so that we can prevent more complicated health issues from developing.
These symptoms can sometimes be passed off as a ‘sign of getting older’, and while yes, the presence of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes and really could just be a result of getting older, it isn’t going to hurt to visit your GP and double check.
Prevention is always better than cure!
What can mismanagement or late diagnosis of this disease lead too?
As mentioned, unmanaged diabetes can lead to various other health complications. Here are some facts from the Diabetes Australia website about diabetes and the risk of other health complications.
Diabetes Australia. (2015). Preventing Complications. Retrieved from
Most of these health complications can be prevented by early diabetes diagnosis and management, which is why it is imperative that you check in with your GP or relevant health professional if you are at risk, or concerned about your risk of developing diabetes. The sooner you know and work towards managing your diabetes, the easier it will be to prevent your health from deteriorating.
What treatment is available for this disease?
Currently there is no cure for T2DM. As such, we often use the term “managing” when talking about diabetes. Depending on how early the diabetes is diagnosed, management can be done through lifestyle modifications including a healthy diet, regular physical activity/exercise and monitoring of BGL’s.
Diet and exercise play critical roles in helping to reach/maintain a healthy body weight and managing BGL’s, with exercise improving the overall effectiveness of insulin in lowering BGL’s. Regular BGL monitoring provides a snapshot of how well your treatment and lifestyle changes are working, and can help you or your health professional decide whether other changes are necessary. People with T2DM generally need to measure their BGL’s several times a day using a blood glucose meter. As mentioned, exercise improves the effectiveness of insulin in the body by increasing the amount of glucose used by muscles as an energy source. This can significantly lower BGL’s and put people at risk of experiencing a hypo (hypoglycaemia/low BGL’s), which is why it can be extremely important for people with T2DM to monitor their BGL’s before and after exercise.
On top of personally checking their BGL’s, people with T2DM should be regularly monitored by a General Practitioner or credentialed Diabetes Educator. They will often use tests to measure your fasting BGL’s and HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin – used to give an indication of long-term glucose management) as a way of viewing how well your diabetes is being managed. The goal of diabetes management is to keep BGL’s as close to the healthy range of between 4 to 6mmol/L (fasting), which will minimise the risk of both short and long-term health complications.
As diabetes is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens over time, it may also be necessary to take tablets to help manage BGL’s. If insulin levels drop too low, it may also be necessary to start taking insulin in combination with tablets for proper diabetes management.
Requiring medication as treatment is a normal process due to the natural progression of the disease. It’s important to remember that medications are only one piece of the puzzle and should be used together with healthy eating and regular exercise!
How can NExT help?
As we have mentioned, exercise plays a big role in helping to manage BGL’s by improving the effectiveness of insulin in the body. On top of this, exercise helps improve other areas of your health such as maintaining a healthy body weight, improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and minimising the risk of other health complications such as heart disease.
As an Exercise Physiologist, Carly is trained in how to best exercise people with diabetes, with the knowledge and skills to be able to take into account any other health complications that you may have. Carly is able to take your blood glucose measurements before and after exercise to ensure you are having a good response to your exercise program, and is able to tailor it to best suit your needs.
I hope this blog post has helped you gain a better understanding of Diabetes, and how important it is to check your risk of developing this condition!
If you have any suggestions of conditions, injuries or general topics that you'd like us to cover in our upcoming blog posts, please feel free to leave us a comment, or send us a message via email, facebook or instagram. Better yet! Why not book in a session with one of us so we can talk about everything directly? We don't bite, I promise!
While we often appreciate the cooling drops in temperature during winter, what we don’t always appreciate is the subsequent spikes in colds and illnesses that come with it. From sore throats, sniffly noses and the aches and pains, it can be particularly difficult to do your everyday activities, let alone stick to your exercise routine (regardless of how desperately we want that “summer body”). What can be even more difficult is knowing if it’s even okay to be exercising if you’re starting to come down with a bug. Some people say “lie down and rest”, while others say “go ahead and sweat it out”. So the question is: “Can I exercise when I’m sick?”
The answer to this is yes (kinda).
It is okay to exercise if you’re sick, depending on the type of illness and symptoms you have!
Generally speaking, if your symptoms are above your neck, it’s probably okay to exercise. These symptoms include:
This is just a general guide, and not necessarily something set in stone. See how you are feeling and decide whether you want to move forward with exercising.
If you’re feeling up for some exercise still… that’s great! However, there are still some things that should be taken into consideration so that you don’t end up making yourself feel worse.
1. Lower the intensity of your workout
Even if you’re feeling well enough to exercise, it’s probably still a good idea to do a less intense workout than normal. A high intensity workout is only going to put more stress on your body, meaning your immune system is going to have to work double time to help fight off your bug, as well as help your body recover from your session. (We describe a high intensity workout as something that is going to make you breathless or feeling very fatigued)
Some examples of low intensity exercise that you can do are:
2. Make sure you get enough sleep
Getting an adequate amount of good quality sleep is important all year round, but especially when your body is fighting a bug. Our immune system uses the time we are asleep to help our body recover from injury and illness… so if you’re feeling a little under the weather, make sure you aren’t sacrificing those precious hours of needed sleep for a late night Netflix binge!
3. Stay hydrated
We tend to associate dehydration with summer and hot temperatures, but oftentimes dehydration can be just as bad during winter! When temperatures get cooler, we don’t feel as thirsty which can result in us drinking less water than our body needs. So even if you’re exercising on a particularly chilly morning and don’t feel thirsty, make sure you’re still keeping your fluids up!
4. Know when to rest
The way your body will respond to your bug and symptoms will change daily, especially when you throw exercise into the mix. Listening to your body and knowing when it might be time to take a step back and have a rest day is important. If you start feeling worse or new symptoms pop up, having a day off to let your body recover is not the end of the world!
At the end of the day, you will know your body better than anyone else, and the decision on whether to exercise while sick is entirely up to you. What I want you to know is that it’s okay to push yourself a little bit if you’re feeling up to it, but it’s also okay to take some time off to let your body catch up if you need too. Whatever you do, just make sure you take that NExT step into looking after your health.
There is so much information out there these days about the importance of stretching, yet we are all guilty of neglecting it. If we were to think of "Exercise" as a family, stretching is that "forgotten middle child", while cardio and weight training are like the cool older brother and the fun younger sister. It's really too bad! Because out of the three, stretching is generally the easiest to do, and often the quickest to see benefits from!
Which brings me to the purpose of this post, our STRETCH CHALLENGE. Starting tomorrow, June 1st, we challenge you to stretch every day! We have made a "Stretch Calendar" as well as an e-book for you to use to help you get involved with this challenge!
Now, we're not expecting you to get into crazy positions, or stretch for 15 minutes a day (unless that is what you really want to do...). What we do expect is that you try your best to stretch for at least a minute every day, either using the stretches we've provided, or by using a stretch of your own! Whether you stretch first thing in the morning; right before you go to bed; or during the ad break of Home and Away: it doesn't matter! The important thing is for you to get moving!
So what are you waiting for? Download our Stretch Calendar and e-book (down below), and get ready to STRETCH with us!
Carly Rush - Exercise Physiologist