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Exercise and physical activity for people with diabetes: who, what, why?

3rd October 2023

In the latest module from EASD e-Learning, the second in its ‘Lifestyle intervention’ course, Professors Richard Bracken and Dominik Pesta home in on the theory and practice of exercise promotion – and what particular benefits and considerations physical activity programmes present for people with diabetes.

“The health benefits of regular physical activity for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have been well characterised in the literature,” says Professor Bracken. “There is the great potential to improve overall fitness and, in addition to that, improving lipid concentrations, insulin sensitivity, endothelial function, contributing to lesser cardiovascular disease risk and lengthening the life of an individual. And in people with type 1 diabetes… an improved sense of wellbeing. And there are well-characterised benefits in type 2 diabetes for blood pressure and beta cell function improvement, as well as overarching glycaemic control. Lesser, or uncertain data exist for microvascular disease risk, osteoporosis, cancer, beta cell function, blood pressure and glycaemic management in type 1 diabetes. And we’re still researching the potential for benefits of physical activity for microvascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer and wellbeing in type 2 diabetes.”

In their new module, ‘Promoting physical activity for people with diabetes’, which launches today, Professors Richard Bracken and Dominik Pesta combine practical advice on prescribing exercise to people with diabetes, with opportunities for healthcare professionals to improve their understanding of the importance of physical activity in the health and wellbeing of people with diabetes. Topics range from the terminology associated with prescribing physical activity, to exercise biochemistry and the uptake of glucose during exercise. 

Much of the focus here is on interactions between physical activity and exercise and aspects particular to the lives of people with diabetes – the interaction of physical activity with medications such as metformin, sulphonylureas, SGLT-2 inhibitors or beta blockers; and considerations relating to diabetes complications. Detailed case studies present opportunities for learners to consider the promotion of exercise and physical activity in individualised, practical clinical settings.  

This is the first of two modules on the topic, with a second module exploring in more detail the alignment of different types of diabetes and different forms of exercise, scheduled to launch in 2024.

To view the module ‘Promoting physical activity for people with diabetes: an overview’, enrol on our Lifestyle intervention course.

Professors Bracken and Pesta will be participating in the ExPAS Symposium ‘Health benefits of exercise’ at the EASD annual conference in Hamburg on Friday 6th October (12.30-14.00 Chicago Hall).

Any opinions expressed here are the responsibility of the EASD e-Learning Programme Director, Dr Eleanor D Kennedy.