Why do we exercise? 18 March 2016 The benefits of exercise are well documented and we all know that exercise is good for us but how exactly does exercise help us attain good health? According to Credentialled Diabetes Educator Rachel McKeown from ADEA, exercise has the following benefits: Increases heart health- if your fat levels are reduced, your heart can work more effectively helping to reduce the risk of heart disease Reduces stress and anxiety- exercise produces the â€˜feel goodâ€™ endorphins Lowers blood pressure (same reason for reducing heart disease- your heart can pump blood more effectively around your body) Improves your sleep Gives you more energy Improves muscle strength and bone mass For people with type 1 diabetes, exercise is part of diabetes management and overall health, however, extra care needs to be taken to avoid hypoglycaemia For people with type 2 diabetes, exercise can make any insulin that your body produces more effective which can lower your blood glucose levels Whatâ€™s the right amount of exercise? For good health, you should aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day or 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity activity per week. If 30 minutes is hard to conceive, you can break it up into 3 x 10 minute sessions and exercise throughout the day. If you would like to lose weight, aim to increase exercise to 45-60 minutes every day, and again this can be broken up into smaller chunks of time. You do not need to puff to extreme to gain the benefits of exercise. Aim for moderate intensity. Moderate intensity means your heart rate increases but you should still be able to hold a conversation. Try to be active on most days; any physical activity is better than none! When you get bored of the activity you are doing, change it up. When you try new activities, you often find the muscles you didnâ€™t know you had. It is hoped that physical activity becomes part of your daily routine. Once you feel the benefits (and they will come) it wonâ€™t seem like a chore. Before you begin an exercise program, you should visit your doctor and discuss the exercise options that would best suit you and your lifestyle. Your doctor may need to refer you to an exercise physiologist and your diabetes educator to ensure you can exercise safely. What type of exercise? Aim to do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week. This includes using resistance bands, also called therabands, dumb bells or any household items that you can lift for example, cans, bottled water or bags of rice. Next time you are watching TV, grab a couple of bottles of water and lift them above your head and to the side for 10 sets, rest then repeat (ensure you are OK to do this by checking with your diabetes health care team). Cardio activities you could try include: walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, tai chi and water aerobics. Sit less, move more Many jobs require you to sit for long periods of time, while sitting, youâ€™re not using your large muscles and your muscle tone is reduced. Try getting up and moving every hour. Go fill up your water bottle, stretch your legs, walk up and down a flight of stairs or talk to someone in the next room. Even if youâ€™re on your feet all day, you still need to move around to get your blood circulating. Be as active as you can be in whatever you are doing. Type 1 diabetes and exercise Exercise affects your blood glucose levels and can cause hypoglycaemia. Read our article â€˜Exercise, hypoglcaemia and type 1 diabetesâ€™ for tips on how to avoid and treat hypoglycaemia while exercising or playing sport.