Among the most important benefits of controlled movement and exercise are increased metabolic rate; increased insulin sensitivity; improved glycemic control and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Some studies have even shown exercise can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 50 per cent and be twice as effective as standard insulin in treating this chronic and dangerous condition, which is now impacting the health of millions of Canadians.
Based on this knowledge, kinesiologists (Ed. note: Kinesiology is the scientific study of human body movement) have long recommended that type 2 diabetics participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week. This movement regimen should be combined with resistance exercises two to three times a week.
Despite these proven guidelines and benefits, the vast majority of Canadians with type 2 diabetes do not meet the minimum physical activity standard. Even worse, diabetics are significantly less active than nondiabetics and a third are completely sedentary. Lack of time, obligations to others, lack of awareness of the health consequences of obesity and physical restrictions all act as barriers to meeting the recommended level of physical activity.
Quite naturally, patients turn to their doctors, nurses and pharmacists for treatment information related to best practices in managing type 2 diabetes as they are critical advocates for integrating exercise into the management of this chronic condition. But they often report low confidence in their abilities to provide structured physical-activity counselling. They also report a lack of knowledge, training and resources. This may well be one of the central reasons why success rates in achieving the needed amount of exercise are so low.
But there is hope. It is within our power to reverse this deadly trend. Studies clearly demonstrate that getting professional support when performing aerobic and resistance exercise can have a highly beneficial impact to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes.
Exercise counselling combined with twice weekly supervised aerobic and resistance exercise was compared to the impact of exercise counselling alone in people with type 2 diabetes. The group receiving counselling in and supervised aerobic and resistance exercise training had significantly better results. The benefits included higher reductions in cardiovascular risks, A1C, blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, body mass index, waist circumference and greater improvements in aerobic fitness and muscle strength.
Every day we see that individual counselling and exercise supervision can make a tremendous difference in the lives of type 2 diabetes patients. With a personalized approach and ongoing motivational support, patients quickly realize how physical activities can drastically improve their quality of life.
World Diabetes Day is November 14. As part of 2019 National Kinesiology Week, presented by Hexfit, which runs from November 11 to 17, the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance wants to remind type 2 diabetics that kinesiologists – as part of a professional health team – can help them move and live better. All Canadians are invited to visit www.nationalkinesiologyweek.ca to explore strategies and opportunities to lead a more active lifestyle.
Hardip Jhaj is President of the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance.