The burning Question - How hard should I be aiming to exercise to achieve the greatest health benefits - as seen in Membership Matters, March 2015 edition (Diabetes Australia Victoria) author Nicole French
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, I am often asked how hard exercise needs to be in order to be effective. This month’s blog aims to explore the topic of exercise intensity, more specifically how different intensities can influence health outcomes and whether you should focus more on exercise effort or how long the exercise lasts for.
Let’s first have a quick look at the different intensities of exercise:
Activities that usually involved sitting or lying and that have little additional movement and a low energy requirement
e.g. sitting on the couch or at a desk
An aerobic activity that does not cause a noticeable change in breathing rate
An intensity that can be sustained for at least 60 minutes
e.g. gentle walking in a shopping centre, dusting, washing
Still breathing comfortably
An aerobic activity that is able to be conducted whilst maintaining a conversation uninterrupted
An intensity that may last between 30 and 60 minutes
e.g. brisk walking, recreational swimming
Aware of breathing harder
May be feeling warm
An aerobic activity in which a conversation generally cannot be maintained uninterrupted
An intensity that may last up to about 30 minutes
e.g lap swimming, jogging
An intensity that generally cannot be sustained for longer than about 10 minutes
Should I aim to exercise harder or longer?
Both moderate and vigorous intensity exercise can be used to meet the minimum exercise recommendations for people living with diabetes. However, participating in vigorous intensity exercise may save you time, since the harder the exercise the less time you need to do it for.
How much more time efficient can vigorous exercise be?
Current exercise recommendations for people living with type 2 diabetes indicates that you should accumulate a minimum of:
210 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (30 minutes 7 days a week), or
125 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week (25 minutes 5 days a week)
Therefore, you could save 85 minutes a week if you were able to build your fitness up to a point where you could exercise vigorously.
If I exercise more, will I enjoy greater benefits from my exercise?
The simple answer is yes. If your exercise routine fulfills the minimum amount of exercise you should see some improvements in your blood glucose control, however if you were to exercise more than this, you can expect even greater health benefits.
The latest research indicates that how hard we exercise (intensity) can be more important in improving blood glucose control than how long we exercise (duration).
Tips to increase exercise intensity:
Include walking for higher intensity bouts, for example 4 minutes of slow walking and then 2 minutes of brisk walking
Stair or hill climbing
Water exercise -
Use resistive devices such as kickboards, noodles and flippers
Swim one fast lap for every few slow laps
Use heavier weights
Increase the number of repetitions or sets you do
Theraband work -
Make the band shorter to increase the intensity
During exercises, hold the stretch for longer
Incorporate short bouts of fast running or sprinting
Short bouts of ‘sprints’
Try a BPM class for a high intensity workout
If at this point you are thinking ‘but I can’t exercise vigorously’, please don’t be dismayed. We know that there are terrific benefits in moderate intensity exercise for blood glucose control, blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat and many more. You should always work at an intensity that provides a challenge for you but that is also safe given your personal medical history and any movement limitations you may have. Ask yourself the simple question ‘is this a challenge’ when you are exercising, if the answer is yes then you are doing a great job, if it is no try working a little bit harder.
When is vigorous exercise not recommended?
Vigorous intensity exercise is generally well tolerated, even in older adults; however there are circumstances when this intensity would not be recommended. If your blood pressure or blood glucose levels are not well controlled, if you have complications with your eyes or if you have unstable heart disease then we would not recommend vigorous exercise. It is also advisable to seek the guidance of a suitable health professional before commencing vigorous intensity physical activity to ensure that you are safe to do so.
Higher intensity exercise can offer greater health benefits when compared to light-moderate intensity exercise. It is more important than duration to improve blood glucose control and it can also be more time efficient. Many individuals report that the challenge that accompanies higher intensity exercise increases their motivation to adhere to a regular program which is important in sustaining health benefits in the long term.
It is advisable that prior to starting a vigorous or high intensity exercise program that you seek the advice of a medical professional and consider any pre-existing health conditions you may have to ensure the safety and appropriateness of this type of exercise. It is also recommended that you follow an individually prescribed program by a qualified health professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologists
Keeping Active over the Holiday Season - as seen in Membership Matters, November edition (Diabetes Australia Victoria) author Nicole French
The holiday season is an exciting time; you may have time off work, have an increased number of social functions and may even be preparing for some time away with your family. The holidays should be a time to relax and have fun but we need to ensure that exercise habits and levels of physical activity don’t suffer too badly. After all we all know how important keeping physically active is to manage and prevent a number of health conditions, more specifically for diabetes, we understand that in order to achieve optimal glycaemic control and reduce risk of complications keeping our body moving is essential.
Many people report that changes in their usual routine over the holidays can affect their motivation to move so let’s look at some user friendly ways to help you maintain a good level of physical activity whilst you are on holidays.
Mix up your usual activities – as holidays are a time for family and friends, plan fun exercise sessions that the whole family can enjoy. Get the kids on their bikes or scooters while you walk or jump on your bike and all head down to the local park for a fun afternoon.
Alter your goals – if your daily goal is usually to walk to and from the train station or the bus stop, change it up to include walking around the local shopping centre, up and down the lap lane at the local pool or to a local café where you can enjoy a healthy breakfast or lunch with your family.
Turn off the TV – a really simple way to make sure that you sit less and move more. By doing this you will always find something else to do and feel a great sense of achievement.
Go outside – why not look for a little hobby to start outside the house for example gardening.
Be adventurous – try something different. Use the flexibility of not being tied to a work schedule to try something different for example an indoor rock climbing centre, ten pin bowling, a tai chi or yoga session.
Look for opportunities to simply MOVE - it amazing of just how much extra movement we can incorporate into a day if we just look for opportunities to move for example cleaning out the kitchen cupboards or the garage.
Getting Motivated to Move
If getting motivated is difficult consider a monitoring system to track how much activity you are doing so that you have a bench mark and can set clear goals, for example using a pedometer, a written diary or smart phone App where you can record your daily movement. Also consider goal setting. When setting goals consider the acronym SMART, that is, make goals:
Specific this is the who, what, when, where, and how of your goal
Measurable how will you measure your goal? If there is not a clear measure in place how will you know if you’ve reached it?
Achievable if you really want to set yourself up for success, the goal should be something you can practically attain
Realistic something that you are willing and able to work towards. This doesn’t mean you can’t set the bar high
Timely your goal(s) should have a specific time-line; a date by which you want to achieve them. This will motivate you to get started
Research indicates that those of us that set SMART goals are more likely to achieve their goals than those that set non SMART goals so why not have a try at setting some SMART goals today?
Also consider barriersthat may limit your ability to achieve your goals, this will help you plan well and manage the barriers rather than be defeated by them. For example consider how bad weather could impact on your goal of walking and have an action plan for this. During Summer, hot weather can be a barrier, in this case, why not consider walking around a shopping centre or taking yourself down to the local pool.
Overall, we need to make sure that we enjoy our holidays; this time provides an opportunity to spend time with loved one, have some fun as well as rest and recover from a hectic year. Let’s be mindful in amongst the celebrations and letting our hair down that aspects of self-care, including exercise and diet do not have to suffer. Plan your activity, mix it up and look at involving family and friends (not forgetting the family pets of course, they’re a part of the family too).
Exercise Tips for Type 2 Diabetes are now available on line
If you are a Diabetes Australia Victoria member, make sure that you log in to your account to access the new 'Exercise Tips section' written by our Senior AEP Nicole French. You will find sample exercises for home as well!
The Living Well with Diabetes Expo is this weekend
Come and join a panel of experts including Dr. Ralph Audehm, Ms. Nicole French and Adele Mackie for a fantastic day at Plenty Valley Arts and Entertainment Centre this Saturday the 14th of June 2014. You will also get the opportunity to see a live cooking demonstration by award-winning celebrity chef Gabriel Gaté.
This event will provide people living with type 2 diabetes the opportunity to take part in information sessions featuring advice on how to live well with diabetes. DA–Vic team members will be available to answer your questions about the membership and support services available in your region.
For more information and to book your seat visit www.diabetesvic.org.au and click on events. We look forward to seeing you there!