A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes can be tough. There is much to learn, and management can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Type 2 diabetes is a leading health issue for many New Zealanders, with the latest statistics indicating that over 200, 000 kiwis suffer from the disease; a disease that is preventable (Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented but it can be managed through a combination of medication, healthy food choices and exercise).

Diabetes is a condition that affects the body’s blood sugar levels. When you have diabetes, you have higher than normal blood sugar (blood glucose) because your body’s insulin production is reduced, or not recognised.

Those most at risk are those with diabetes in their family, overweight people, and those diagnosed as having pre-diabetes. There is also a link between ethnicity and risk of diabetes.

Healthy living guidelines such as those produced by the Ministry of Health have recommended regular exercise as part of reducing the risk of diabetes and other preventable diseases, and also as a contributing factor of weight management.

If you or someone you care about are looking at exercise as a way of improving activity levels, and therefore decreasing the risk of lifestyle related diseases, either to prevent them, or manage symptoms, the message is clear – include a variety of activities including those that get your heart rate up, and those that give you strength gains.

The good news is that the sort of activity do does not mean completing Olympic athlete style training, and can come in a range of styles.

It can be confusing to work out where to start when introducing exercise and physical activity into your life if you haven’t done it before, or have had a break from training for a while. You are never too old, too sick or too unfit to benefit from exercise. It’s a matter of starting out easy and celebrating progress.

To get specific guidelines on how you can use exercise to improve your health it is important to get the support and professional knowledge of someone who knows their stuff. They can also get you started in a way that is realistic, safe, and will get you the results you are after. And also importantly that it is fun and something you enjoy doing.

Symptoms can vary, but if you have any of the risk factors above, and are experiencing the following, it is important to seek medical advice.

These may include:

  • Feeling tired and lacking energy
  • Feeling thirsty and/or hungry
  • Getting infections frequently that are hard to heal
  • Poor eyesight or blurred vision

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