Three commonly asked questions about exercise and diabetes 10 January 2023 1. What’s the best time of day to exercise? Our Exercise Physiologists are often asked whether there is an ideal time of the day to exercise. The ‘correct’ answer to this is that the time that suits you best, as it means you’re more likely to complete it! Having said that, there is a lot of research on the effect of exercise at different times of the day on blood glucose levels (BGLs). In particular, whether before or after a meal may be more effective. Research has shown that exercising both before or after food can improve your BGLs; however, exercise after food is often seen as more effective. Try checking your BGLs before and two hours after your next meal with a bout of light to moderate intensity exercise in between. See if you can spot a difference to what your BGLs might be without the exercise. 2. How do I start/get back into exercise? Starting and maintaining exercise is a challenge. Here are a few tips to getting (and keeping) the ball rolling: Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Start small and realistic, and work your way up as you improve. Set a goal! Giving your exercise purpose and having a target is a great way to stay motivated. Plan ahead. Making it a priority in your day will help improve your chances of success. Speak with a professional. Sometimes a helping hand can go a long way. Consult with an Exercise Physiologist who can prescribe you individualised exercise and help you stay on track. 3. What exercise is best for diabetes? Different types of exercise can have different effects on your BGLs, and understanding these may help in deciding what works best for you. Aerobic exercise (or cardio) like walking/jogging, swimming, or cycling, can cause your BGLs to decrease during and after the exercise by using glucose in the blood for energy, like a sponge soaking up water. These are great for managing spikes in your BGLs. Resistance exercise (or strength training) helps to increase muscle size means we have more space to store glucose in our cells, burn more energy when we are active (and even at rest), and keeps our ability to complete activities of daily living high! All of this results in lower BGLs over the long-term. Incidental activity involves things we do every day that are physically active (housework, walking at the shops etc.), and makes up the largest part of our daily activity. The more active you keep your muscle the more glucose you use. Therefore, incorporating as much incidental activity into our days as we can is an incredibly important part of maintaining good health. All of these types of exercise can help lower your BGLs, improve your insulin sensitivity for 6-42 hours post-exercise, and improve your overall diabetes management. Safety precautions Exercise is a safe and effective way to manage diabetes. However, how you exercise safely can vary based on the type of diabetes you live with, and the ways you currently manage your health. For more on exercising safely, important considerations dependant on your diabetes type, the medication you are talking, and any medical conditions you may have such as peripheral neuropathy, click through to our diabetes and exercise page. If you have any further questions, please call our Helpline on 1800 637 700 to speak with one of our Health Professionals.