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What does science really say about the impact of exercising on diabetes?

Isaiah Chng, CEO & strategist of UP Health, Clinical Exercise Physiologist

· Physical Activity

Diabetes is one of the many chronic conditions that Singaporeans face each day. It is a silent killer of productivity. Pre-diabetes - a condition that can't be identified through health screenings - is no small issue either as it can cause one to be more tired at work than usual. On the surface, tackling diabetes or pre-diabetes sounds difficult. But the good news is, science has shown that it can be done with exercise and lifestyle changes through the right lifestyle changes.

Exercise is typically encouraged to increase the absorption of glucose into our muscles as one method of managing diabetes. We have always known that pre-diabetes (borderline high blood sugar) can be prevented from developing into full-blown diabetes but it was formerly thought that there was no reversal for patients already diagnosed with diabetes.


There is now strong evidence that targeted lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can "reactivate" the pancreas, increasing insulin production and regulating blood sugar levels. This means that the underlying reasons for diabetes (i.e. low insulin) is now reversible!

As a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with years of experience health coaching, I cannot stress enough the importance of the intensity and duration of physical activity in helping employees manage their chronic health issues. The below combination of physical activity targets is a recommended guideline that your employees can undertake:

  1. Aerobic / Cardio activity, such as jogging, group fitness, cycling, at moderate intensity of over 150 minutes per week, and
  2. Strength activity, such as lifting weights, circuit training, at high repetitions of 15 and above with light weights.

Apart from these targets, employees should work with health consultants who are certified trainers endorsed by organisations like Exercise Is Medicine^ Singapore towards a common goal of achieving and maintaining better health. These measures and the setting of targets may take some time but employers who know how to take care of their employees and stay true to investing in and taking care of their human capital will ultimately safeguard their best talents.


^A local medical movement in Singapore to ensure safe exercise for people with health risk

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