Being physically active every day is
important for people of all ages.
Steps to get started
A guide to BGLs and
Know the warning signs
Being active can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight
and helps to prevent chronic disease. It also helps you to relieve
stress, sleep better, feel fitter, have stronger bones and
gives you the chance to interact with your family and friends and
meet new people.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines for
Australian Adults recommend:
- Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
- Be active every day in as many ways as you can.
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical
activity on most, preferably all, days.
- And if possible, also enjoy some regular, vigorous activity for
extra health and fitness.
Step 1 - START SMALL
Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you
are new to exercise, start off by doing small sessions of your
chosen activity. Just 10 minutes is enough to gain benefits.
Gradually, as your fitness improves, increase this to 30-60
minutes. If you can't fit long exercise sessions into your day,
break your activity up into 10 minute blocks.
Step 2 - MOVE MORE
Adults are recommended be active on most, preferably all, days
every week. Exercise done consistently throughout the week helps us
to gain even more benefits especially for people living with
diabetes. Regular exercise helps to improve the body's ability to
use glucose for energy. Research shows this effect only lasts for
24-72 hours though, so we need to do it regularly!
Step 3 - UNDERSTAND INTENSITY
How 'intense' your exercise is impacts upon how often it is
recommended you do that activity.
Which is your preferred exercise intensity level?
- Moderate intensity exercise - If you're breathing more heavily
than normal and you can hold a short conversation - you're
exercising at a moderate intensity. The guidelines recommend you do
between two-and-a-half to five hours of moderate intensity exercise
- Vigorous intensity exercise - You would be short of breath but
able to speak up to one sentence if you're doing vigorous intensity
exercise, which is a little more difficult to sustain than moderate
The guidelines recommend you undertake between one-and-a-quarter
to two-and-a-half hours of vigorous intensity exercise each
Why not mix it up? Try doing both moderate and vigorous activity
each week to make up the recommended amount.
Remember, it's not just what exercise we do - but how we do it
that will help improve our health. Exercise that is too light may
not give you the recommended health benefits while exercise that is
too hard can place you at risk of over-training and injury.
Step 4 - INCLUDE RESISTANCE
Undertake muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days
each week. Strengthening activities include anything that requires
your body to move against a weight or gravity. This would include
activities such as lifting tins of food, repeated sitting and
standing from a chair or seated leg raises.
Step 5 - STAND DON'T SIT
Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting. Break up
long periods of sitting as often as possible. Meet a friend for a
walking date rather than a coffee, stand on public transport rather
than sit or ask whether your workplace can provide standing
Exercise is important! And it's important you exercise safely.
But before you start, make sure you do the following:
WHERE DO YOU START?
See your GP for the all clear, especially if you're over 35 or
have had diabetes for more than 10 years. Consider seeking advice
from an exercise physiologist for exercise choices.
HOW ARE YOUR FEET?
You can get advice from your podiatrist or GP to choose your
footwear. Check your feet and shoes both before and after
WHAT ABOUT CHANGES IN BGLS?
Plan to do your activity at regular times on set days to reduce
the chance of hypos. Plan what exercise you'll do, how often, for
how long and at what intensity. Talk to your diabetes educator
particularly if you're balancing medication.
AND DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS
If you wear medical alert identification, such as a bracelet or
chain, ensure you have this on. Apply sunscreen and protect
your head and body against the sun. Drink plenty of water before,
during and after exercising to avoid dehydration.
BEFORE AN EXERCISE SESSION
- Am I feeling well? It is not recommended that you exercise when
you are feeling unwell. Take time out to rest and recuperate and
start exercising again when you are feeling better.
- Have I checked my blood glucose level? When you are
starting a new exercise routine or increasing the intensity of your
current physical activity it is important to check your more
regularly as you can expect it to change. For people who require
blood glucose lowering medication or insulin to manage their
diabetes this includes checking your BGLs before, during and after
DURING AN EXERCISE SESSION
- Check your BGLs every 20-30mins if the intensity, type or
duration is new to you, or you experience symptoms of
hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.
AFTER AN EXERCISE SESSION
- Check your BGL and monitor it for up to 24 hours.
- Have a carbohydrate snack or meal, if required.
- Be aware of overnight hypoglycaemia. Have a low GI snack before
bed if you think your s might drop during the night.
- If you require blood glucose lowering medication or insulin you
may need to adjust your dose as your BGL reduces as a result of the
exercise. This is particularly important if you are exercising at a
high intensity or for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Speak to
your health care team before making any changes to your medication
Finding the motivation to exercise is often more challenging
than exercising itself - so find your own source of motivation to
exercise, it may be the key to achieving your exercise goals.
Our top five tips to keeping motivated:
- Join a friend - You'll be more motivated to
keep up your exercise schedule if you know someone else is relying
- Plan ahead - Dedicate time each day to
exercise, it will be easier to keep to a schedule and you will
start to form a routine.
- Keep a diary - Track your progress and make
goals, if you can see how well you're tracking you're more likely
to keep up the good work.
- Motivational quotes - Surround yourself with
encouragement to remind you why exercise is important and encourage
you to continue.
- Reward yourself - Head out for new exercise
gear or a massage to keep motivated.
A guide to BGLs before exercise
Discover the effects of your Blood Glucose Levels and
- < 4mmol/L: A BGL less than
4mmol/L is usually referred to as hypoglycaemia. Exercise
should be postponed until you have treated
- 4mmol/L - 5mmol/L: Have a small amount of
carbohydrate. I.e. piece of fruit or small glass of milk before you
- 4mmol/L - 9mmol/L: This is the
ideal BGL range to exercise. Let's get moving!
- 10mmol/L - 14mmol/L: Caution needs to be taken
with BGLs consistently over 10mmol/L, consider gentle exercise and
see your GP to discuss ongoing treatment.
- > 15mmol/L: If your BGL is more
than 15mmol/L postpone strenuous exercise. This is considered
'hyperglycaemia' and can cause levels to rise further and lead to
dehydration. Exercising when BGLs are above 15mmol/L can also
lead to the production of ketones for people with type 1
Know the warning signs to stop
While exercise is generally a safe activity, there are some
warning signs to look out for. These signs let you know that you
may have overdone it, or your body is having an abnormal reaction
If you experience any of the following during exercise, stop and
- Chest, abdominal, neck, jaw or arm pain or tightness
- Palpitations, irregular or racing heart beat
- Feeling faint, light headed or dizzy
- Leg cramps or pain
- Symptoms of hypoglycaemia (stop immediately and
If the pain/symptom does not go away within five minutes, seek
urgent medical attention - dial 000. If the symptom subsides see
your GP before starting exercise again.
30 minutes of physical activity every
For good health, Australian's should put together at least 30
minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day. You may
choose to do this all at once or you can split it up into
10-15minutes blocks. Moderate intensity physical activity is being
active enough that your heart is beating a little bit faster, you
might start to feel a little puffed but should still be able to
hold a conversation. But if you can sing, you need to work a little
Keep in mind that the above recommendations are for general
health - if your goal is to lose weight you may need to do more
than 30 minutes.
Remember to always discuss your exercise plans with your doctor
or an Accredited
Exercise Physiologist especially if you have been
inactive for a long time, have any medical conditions or