12 July 2013

lady practising yogaPrescription exercise can improve social and emotional wellbeing for people with diabetes as much as providing physical benefits for managing the disease, according to a UniSA clinical exercise expert.

Dr Maarten Immink, who directs UniSA’s Clinical Exercise Physiology program, says regular exercise has bio-psychosocial benefits for the whole person – not just their muscles, heart and lungs.

Dr Immink will introduce the notion of “exercise as medicine” for people with diabetes when he presents at a Diabetes SA seminar, ‘Minding your diabetes’, at Festival Theatre tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

The seminar will discuss how emotional stress can impact diabetes management and offer strategies to improve emotional wellbeing.

It is a lead-in event to National Diabetes Week, which runs from July 14 to 20.

Dr Immink says in South Australia alone, 20 people are diagnosed with diabetes each day and, for many cases, stress and poor emotional wellbeing further complicate their condition and compromise their quality of life.

“Diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease that leads to serious complications for the individual and costs Australia billions of dollars each year,” he says.

“Exercise and physical activity are so important in diabetes management but the beauty about being active is that benefits go well beyond better blood sugar levels – the whole person improves, even their emotional wellbeing.”

In order to support people commencing a new exercise or physical activity program, Dr Immink developed the SEER principle, the notion that exercise should be safe, effective, enjoyable and relevant.

“This principle might be particularly useful for people who have diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance as these conditions present challenges at the physical, psychological and emotional levels in relation to exercise participation,” Dr Immink says.

“The best way one can ensure their exercise is safe, effective and sustainable is by working with an Exercise Physiologist. These allied health professionals are recognised for their clinical skills in exercise prescription and lifestyle modification for people with chronic and complex conditions.”

UniSA’s Clinical Exercise Physiology program is the only clinical program in South Australia training these professionals.

“A big issue in physical activity promotion today is the lack of relevance in popular approaches,” Dr Immink says.

“For some people whom regular exercise is not a habit they need to prepare mentally for behavioural change and the physical challenge of exercise.

“Mindful forms of physical activity such as yoga and tai chi have higher levels of adherence over other forms of exercise because the mindful movement reconnects the body and the mind and importantly they promote something that is so important to every one of us, happiness.

“Many people start yoga to be stronger and more flexible, but often end up practising for decades due to the deep emotional benefits they experience such as stress management, self-mastery and deep personal growth rewards.”

Contact for interview: Dr Maarten Immink office 8302 2675

Media contact: Kelly Stone office 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au

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