Diabetes and Exercise14 Nov

Diabetes and Exercise

Today is World Diabetes Day! At Brio Leisure we would like to help raise awareness for all types of diabetes and how exercise can benefit you if you’re living with it.

Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, 8% type 1, and 2% rarer forms of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, where the body mistakes the pancreas for a foreign body and attacks it. The pancreas (next to our stomach) then stops producing insulin which job is to move the sugar (glucose) in our blood into our cells, to fuel our bodies. Without having insulin, our blood sugar levels can remain dangerously high. Type 1 diabetes isn’t affected by your diet or lifestyle, and scientists are still not sure what causes it. To help keep their blood sugar levels low, people with type 1 need to inject insulin several times every day.

With type 2 diabetes, insulin is still produced but doesn’t work correctly; therefore, blood sugar levels keep rising. Some people with Type 2 diabetes make less and less insulin over time, causing blood sugar levels to increase further. Diabetes medications may then be needed to help to lower blood sugar levels, reducing short term symptoms and long-term complications. Some people with type 2 also need to take insulin. There is a common misconception that if someone with type 2 diabetes starts taking insulin, they then become type 1, which isn’t true! You can find out if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes here.


Diabetes and physical activity

There are many benefits of how physical activity helps the health of people living with diabetes; one of these is that it can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes! Other benefits include lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and maintaining our strength and muscle mass as we age.

Introducing more physical activity and a calorie-controlled diet can help towards losing weight! If you’re overweight, losing even a small amount of weight (5-10%) can significantly lower blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk.

Exercise (even without weight loss) improves the bodies sensitivity to insulin, helping to lower blood sugar levels. Raised blood sugar levels cause damage to many parts of the body over time, including the blood vessels, kidneys and feet.

Working out at a gym can help with increasing your exercise, whether you choose to go to fitness classes like Yoga and Pilates or swim instead!

But if the gym isn’t for you, don’t worry! Anything from gardening and housework to cycling and walking can be beneficial too.

What local exercise programmes are available to me?

Anyone who is a resident or registered with a GP within Cheshire West and Chester and has Type 1 diabetes is eligible for the Cheshire Change Hub Active Always scheme. This includes a 12-week subsidised activity programme. Anyone who is a resident or registered with a GP within Cheshire West and Chester and has Type 2 diabetes is eligible for the Cheshire Change Hub Exercise Safely scheme, including a 12-week free membership at Brio Leisure.

The local NHS Diabetes Essentials programme provides a standalone 2-2.5 hours of information and discussion from a Registered Dietitian. Topics include healthy eating, exercise, medication, NHS support, all in an informal group setting. Sessions are available for those with borderline, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and a friend/ family member can come along too!

Sessions run across six easily accessible locations in West Cheshire, with free parking at all venues. Both daytime and evening sessions are available.

Contact them on 01244 365234 / diabetes.essentials@nhs.net to book your place with their friendly team.

More information regarding Diabetes Essentials please see the leaflet attached and give them a like and follow on Facebook/ Instagram.

Hypoglycaemia and Exercise:

People with diabetes who take certain medications can be at risk of blood sugars becoming too low (usually below 4mmol/l), called hypoglycaemia or a “hypo”.

Hypo’s can make you feel very unwell. Hypo’s can happen if the balance of diabetes medication you take (especially insulin), the food you eat and the physical activity you do isn’t right. If you are unsure if you are at risk, please ask your GP, dietitian or practice nurse. For more information regarding hypo’s, click here.


If you know that you are at risk of hypo’s, make sure that you keep hypo treatments and your blood sugar monitor to the gym with you. When taking part in a fitness class, please let your class instructor know if you are at risk of hypo’s.


Diabetes Essentials Leaflet


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