Understanding Diabetes In Australia


Written by: Niki Holding (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

Diabetes is a disease which is growing across many age groups within Australia. Within the last decade the prevalence of Diabetes has increased by 280% within the Australian population: and Diabetes is costing the Australian health system approximately $17.6 billion per year

More importantly this growing prevalence of Diabetes within the Australian community is having dire consequences on the health and mortality of many individuals within our community.

Increasing the understanding of this insidious disease is the most important step in combating its continue impact on our community.

At Inspire Fitness and Exercise Physiology we are committed to the ongoing education of our community to ensure we continue to play a vital role in creating a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.


Understanding Diabetes

There are three categories of Diabetes which reflect how a person has developed the disease.

Diabetes is where there is too much glucose in your blood. To help control blood glucose your body produces insulin which helps move the glucose from the blood into your cells to be used for energy.

When you have diabetes your body is not able to effectively use or produce insulin. Meaning the body’s cells are unable to turn glucose into energy.

There are three main types of Diabetes, type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. The perveance of diabetes in Australia is increasing with type 2 diabetes increasing the fastest.
Lifestyle changes are the best way to prevent developing diabetes. This can be done through diet and exercise

Categories of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body stops making insulin. Type 1 diabetes can effect anyone but is more common in people who are under 30.

Having type 1 diabetes won’t stop you from living a very full life. You are definitely able to continue to play sport and exercise. There will be some little things to think about when exercising and playing sport but on a whole exercise is very important to continue to do.

To be able to exercise, you need to be monitoring your BGL to ensure they are and stay in the ideal range of 5mmol/L to 10mmol/L.

It is also important that you are fueling your body adequately before, during and after exercise to prevent drastic changes to your BGL. A dietician can help with what types of foods will be appropriate to incorporate when exercising.

The benefits of exercise for people with type 1 diabetes include:

  • Improve how insulin works in the body
  • Reduced cardiovascular risk factors
  • Improved muscle strength and bone mass
  • Decrease the risk of diabetes related complications and many more

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes tends to develop over a period time. It develops when you’re your pancreas stops producing enough insulin: or when the insulin you are producing is not working efficiently. Insulin is a hormone that helps control the amount of glucose in the blood.

When you have type 2 diabetes your body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin which causes glucose to stay in the blood and increase blood glucose levels to higher than normal.

If your blood glucose levels are not controlled either through diet and exercise or medication, It can start to take a toll on the rest of your body. If blood glucose levels are uncontrolled it could cause:

  • Eye disease
  • Hearing loss
  • Gum disease
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin conditions
  • Nerve damage and more

Type to diabetes tends to develop from inherited factors as well as lifestyle risk factors such as poor diet and insufficient exercise/ physical activity.
Physical activity or exercise make up one of the key bases of diabetes management

Any sort of physical activity can have positive effects on blood glucose control and reduces risk of developing other comorbidities or diabetes related conditions. It is recommended for people with diabetes to exercise at a moderate intensity

The benefits of exercise for people with Type 2 diabetes:

  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved muscle strength and bone mass
  • Lower blood glucose levels
  • Lower Blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improve heart health
  • Lower risk of diabetes related complications

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born, however, having gestational diabetes does put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later. The diagnosis of gestational diabetes is classified as an intolerance to glucose of a range of severity which is usually developed or recognised in the second or third trimesters.

When you have gestational diabetes it is important to follow an appropriate eating and exercise plan to help keep your blood glucose levels within the ideal range as well as provide adequate nutrition for you and your baby

As a general recommendation pregnant women with gestational diabetes should exercise three to five times per week for 30min of aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, stationary bike and two to three days of resistance training on non consecutive days for about 1-3 set and 8-12 reps.

Not only is exercise great for managing blood glucose levels it can also help with recovery from birth, managing pain that can be associated with pregnancy such as pelvic and lower back pain, decreased risk hypertension, pre-eclampsia, increased energy and more.

Exercise programs should be tailored to a persons needs. Exercise Physiologists have the knowledge, training, and education and experience to understand people’s physiological needs and associated risks. Exercise Physiologist will take into account program that will be safe n beneficial for your needs.

Further resources for Improving your Understanding of Diabetes