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Updated Diabetes Guidelines Recommend Increased Physical Activity


Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging. 2016;24(10):37-38.


ALTC Editors

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) released new, comprehensive guidelines for regular, structured physical exercise for patients with diabetes, recommending less overall daily sedentary time. The guideline recommendations were based on results of a recent study published in Diabetes Care (2016;39[11]:2065-2079).

“These updated guidelines are intended to ensure everyone continues to physically move around throughout the day—at least every 30 minutes—to improve blood glucose management,” Sheri R Colberg-Ochs, PhD, FACSM, lead author of the study and director of physical fitness for the ADA, said in a press release. “This movement should be in addition to regular exercise, as it is highly recommended for people with diabetes to be active. Since incorporating more daily physical activity can mean different things to different people with diabetes, these guidelines offer excellent suggestions on what to do, why to do it and how to do it safely.”

Three or more minutes of light activity is recommended (such as walking, leg extensions, or overhead arm stretches) every 30 minutes during prolonged sedentary time in order to improve blood sugar management among patients with type 2 diabetes. These recommendations are a change from the previous guidelines, which recommended physical movement every 90 minutes of sedentary time.

The guidelines promote aerobic activity which benefits patients with type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugar management as well as encouraging weight loss. Additionally, regular exercise that incorporates aerobic and resistance training offers health benefits for people with type 1 diabetes and improves insulin sensitivity.

“[The recommendations] for physical activity and exercise will vary based on a patient’s type of diabetes, age, overall health and the presence of diabetes-related complications,” the authors wrote. “Additionally, specific guidelines are outlined for monitoring blood sugar levels during activity.”

The ADA recommended clinicians use positive behavior-change strategies to promote physical activity programs with patients. According to the guidelines, a structured exercise program is more beneficial for people with diabetes. —Julie Gould

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