Exercise & Diabetes: Top Tips


While most people may focus on exercise for weight loss, we would like at Diabetes Insight/Fitness Insight, to focus your attention on exercise for diabetes as well as cardiovascular health. A FIT but OBESE person is 3 times less likely to die from a heart attack than an UNFIT person of NORMAL WEIGHT.

Before anyone begins to exercise the following points should be noted. Also remember to consult with your GP & Diabetes team before you begin any exercise programme.

[text_box title=”Goal Setting ” icon=”info”]
Everyone needs a goal for motivation. Whether it is the little black dress for the Christmas party, your daughters wedding next year, or maybe a personal goal like walking a mini marathon. I find this last particular goal very motivational for a lot of people and becomes very personal to the individual as you may decide to raise money and awareness for a cause close to your heart, for example- the Diabetes Federation of Ireland.[/text_box][/one_half]

[one_half_last][text_box title=”Realistic targets” icon=”info”]Taking out a year’s membership to a gym that you use one month in a year or running a full marathon in 3 months when you have never even put your leg outside the door in 6 months is not realistic. People set themselves huge targets without even considering the pro’s and cons’s. For example, some people might want to lose a stone a month. Now, maybe with extreme determination and detailed knowledge of what you are doing, this might be possible, but can you sustain it? If you are unsure of what targets to set for yourself talk to a professional.[/text_box][/one_half_last]

[text_box title=”Committment ” icon=”info”]
Without this, forget about exercising. No exercise regime is worth its weight in salt, if the party involved is not 100% committed. That means exercising regardless of the weather, or what’s on television or whose dog just died. You are just fooling yourself and those around you if you are not 100% committed.[/text_box][/one_half]

[one_half_last][text_box title=”Fitting in the lifestyle” icon=”info”]
This is so important and probably where people downfall the most. They pick an exercise that just doesn’t fit into their routine. What’s the point in signing up for 8 weeks of Aqua aerobics on a Tuesday night when you know you finish late from work/school/college on a Tuesday and will be under pressure to get there? Before you know it, you will be saying to yourself ‘Oh I’m too tired, I’ll take a break tonight. Tonight will become next week, the week after and before you know it, 8 weeks of classes have suddenly become 2. But you can afford to be throwing money away like that…..can’t you? [/text_box][/one_half_last]


[text_box title=”Little but often ” icon=”info”]
It’s the quality, not the quantity- People make the fatal mistake of its ‘all or nothing’ mentality, going out for a 5 mile walk with the dog, with the dog taking you for a walk, rather than going for a ten minute power walk with the dog running to catch up! Health Professionals have this really blasé attitude to exercise, telling you to do 30 minutes every day because that’s what they read in the newspaper. Maybe 30 minutes a day is a huge ordeal for people to achieve. Exercise is individual and what is recommended for one person, may not suit another. Break up your exercise, with 10 minutes in the morning, a walk at lunch time and ten minutes when you get home in the evening, which can be more effective than a big 30 minute chunk out of your day.[/text_box][/one_half]

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Exercise consciously, when you want and do what you want. How many of us have gone out for a walk, which after a while breaks into a gentle stroll because we are too busy admiring the lovely trees etc, and we are crawling by the time we get home? Why? Because we switched our brains off to exercise, when in fact it should be the other way around. We should be thinking, ‘I’ll do ten minutes of a fast pace here, time myself, then slow down for five, and then maybe jog for two minutes’. [/text_box][/one_half_last]



[text_box title=”Exercise first thing in the morning” icon=”info”]
By doing this you are effectively speeding up your metabolism for the rest of the day, and therefore burning off weight at a much faster speed. It doesn’t have to be a big power walk in the morning, maybe jogging on the spot for 5 minutes or if you have an exercise bike, hop On it for about ten minutes.[/text_box][/one_half]

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what happens to a lot of us after eating? We get lazy, especially after an evening meal, when we flop in front of the television for the night. Exercising about one hour after food, helps to speed up the movement of the food through the gut and aids better absorption of our nutrients. It stops the system from becoming deadened and sluggish, where food can become lodged and rot inside of us, making us ill and put on weight. [/text_box][/one_half_last]


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Many people ask me, how do I know I’m exercising correctly so that I am burning off the weight? If you exercise with a buddy, when you are exercising and feeling a little bit breathless, but can still carry on safely, this is the level you must hold your exercise regime at in order for it to be effective. Also if you get a stitch when you exercise, this indicates that you going from aerobic to anaerobic exercise and your muscles are using fat as well as oxygen to fuel them.[/text_box][/one_half]

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When a person is on a diet or exercise regime, the body will get used to what it does everyday and will not recognise it as diet or exercise anymore after a period of about 4-6 weeks. So there are two things that you can do. You can stop for a week or two and allow the body to rest, or you can change your regime. This will trigger the body back into weight loss mode again. [/text_box][/one_half_last]


[text_box title=”Mathematics” icon=”info”]
It’s a simple case of what goes in must be burnt off; otherwise you will not lose weight.[/text_box][/one_half]

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If you do not enjoy exercise, you will see it as a chore and therefore will end up taking an instant dislike to it. Exercise with a friend, or a group. Have a laugh; don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different forms of exercise until you find one you enjoy. [/text_box][/one_half_last]


It is very hard to assess someone and to give them a programme without seeing them, so the above advice is for the general populous. You may have done incredibly well so far on your diet, but like most people you may have hit what they call a ‘brick wall’, where you are finding it difficult at this stage to lose the weight. It calls for a very specific plan of action, which is what you are getting in the diet, but you may also need this with an exercise regime as well. It may be of benefit to attend personal fitness training for a few weeks or a gym that will give you your own individual plan to follow.

We would recommend exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics; they are excellent for losing weight. Combined with a few sessions of Pilates which is great for strengthening core muscles in the abdomen, you would have a very good exercise regime that would be constantly changing. I would recommend a few private classes of Pilates as it can be hard to get the knack of it first day. You may not notice a difference initially, but give it 6-8 weeks and it is excellent posture, tummy etc.

Always remember to clear it with your doctor/consultant first that it is safe for you to exercise and wear CORRECT FOOTWEAR when exercising! Always attend to your feet after every session of exercise that you do and ensure that there are no blisters etc. For anyone with diabetic retinopathy or neuropathy, please consult your doctor first before you exercise.

© Diabetes Insight, August 2009

The following is a list of activities that show how many calories you burn. Try to find the activities that you partake in, and add them up to give you your total amount burnt in a day.

Calories Per Minute
Car washing
Chopping Wood
Mopping Floors
Ballroom Dancing
Hill Walking

30 minutes of swimming will burn approximately 300 calories – the equivalent to an average bar of chocolate.

© Diabetes Insight, August 2009

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