The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has issued new recommendations to improve fitness and quality of life for all American people with diabetes, including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes.
Lack of exercise has many undesirable effects on heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Physical activity can give a degree of protection of 20 per cent on average against these diseases.
The new guidelines, published in Diabetes Care, include suggestions of moderate to intense physical activities, as well as light forms of exercise to cut daily sitting time.
During waking hours, 65 per cent of an average American person’s day is spent sedentary, which represents nine to ten hours for adults.
It’s been shown that prolonged sitting adversely affects glucose metabolism. However, sitting with light intensity breaks can significantly reduce glucose and insulin levels.
In light of this, ADA recommends three or more minutes of light activity, such as walking, leg extensions, or overhead arm stretches, every 30 minutes – instead of the previously suggested time of 90 minutes – during prolonged sedentary activity.
This movement should be in addition to regular, structured exercise training as detailed in the guidelines with blood sugar management tips based on activity type and timing.
For older adults aged 65 or over, the guidelines state that they should combine balance and co-ordination activities at least two days a week.
Under the new guidelines, clinicians are also expected to use certain behaviour change strategies during consultations to promote physical activity programs and encourage patients to be physically active enough for good health.
The new American guidelines resemble those of the UK Chief Medical Officers, with a general recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, incorporating muscle strengthening, with no more than two consecutive days without activity.
However, ADA’s directive to include short exercises to break up longer periods of sitting marks a difference between the American guidelines and current UK advice.

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