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Can exercise prevent and cure diabetes?

This National Diabetes Week, Exercise Right wants to highlight the fact that exercise can be used as medicine to both prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Whether you’re at risk of diabetes, or have been previously diagnosed, exercise can help!

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Australia, with around 1.7 million people living with this condition. The prevalence of diabetes is increasing at a frightening rate, with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes. 85–90 per cent of these cases are type 2.

Diabetes puts a strain on the healthcare system, with 1 million hospitalisations and 16,400 deaths associated with diabetes in 2015. The impact of diabetes also costs Australia an estimated $14.6 billion annually.

What causes diabetes?

Despite its prevalence, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. We don’t know exactly what causes type 2 diabetes, but we do know that it’s strongly associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Statistics show that 53% of the diabetes burden is due to overweight and obesity alone.

Your risk of developing diabetes increases if you have high blood pressure, are overweight or obese, have insufficient physical activity levels, or a poor diet. Increasing your exercise and physical activity levels is an easy way to reduce your risk!

Exercise for managing diabetes

There’s no known cure for diabetes. However, exercise can be powerful tool for managing this condition.  Exercise helps to:

  • Make insulin work more effectively
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease
  • Reduce stress


Where to find help

Those living with diabetes often experience additional barriers to exercising, including diabetes related fatigue and comorbidities like cardiovascular disease. For this reason, it’s important that people seek advice from an expert when it comes to exercising with diabetes.

Accredited Exercise Physiologist are university-qualified allied health professionals. They are uniquely qualified to prescribe exercise as medicine for those living with chronic conditions like diabetes. There’s over 5,000 Accredited Exercise Physiologists around Australia, and this National Diabetes Week, we’re encouraging those living with diabetes to seek help and advice when it comes to their individual exercise needs.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) offer a search function which allows individuals to find their local expert.

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