What is the role of an exercise physiologist in diabetes care?

Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, CPT,NASM Elite Trainer
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

It's important that the exercise physiologist have a background in working with populations with clinical conditions.  Diabetes is a clinical condition and the clinical exercise physiologist is in a position to explain to a individual living with diabetes, how exercise affects the condition.  The clinical exercise physiologist can also help the individual living with diabetes skills such as regular blood glucose monitoring and eating strateges to better manage their diabetes.

Too, clincial exercise physiologists, particularly those working with the diabetes population are in a position to help this population learn diabetes self-care management skills so that they are in a position to manage the condition throughout their lives.

Even when you want to exercise, it’s hard to know how to begin. If you haven’t been very active in the past, you might want advice on how to get started. If you have a favorite sport or activity, you might want to learn how best to integrate it into your diabetes plan. A professional trained in exercise science and safe conditioning techniques is in the best position to help you design a fitness program you can live with. To find a qualified exercise physiologist, ask your diabetes care provider or other members of your diabetes care team. In choosing an exercise physiologist, look for someone who holds a master’s or doctoral-level degree in exercise physiology or a licensed health care professional who has received graduate training in exercise physiology. You may want someone certified by the American College of Sports Medicine to ensure that your exercise physiologist has the skills necessary to design a safe, effective fitness program to suit your needs. 
Exercise physiologists can help you design a tailor-made fitness program, set realistic goals, and offer tips for staying motivated to stick with your exercise routine. Whatever your exercise goals—to improve cardiovascular fitness, lower blood glucose levels, lose weight, lower blood pressure or cholesterol, or develop muscular strength and flexibility—your exercise physiologist can help you achieve those goals. Even if you have arthritis, are overweight, experience any complications of diabetes, or have been sedentary and want to become more active, an exercise physiologist can develop an exercise program to accommodate your specific needs. But before embarking on any new exercise program, make sure to clear it with your diabetes care provider. Also make sure that your provider and exercise physiologist are in contact.