Fast Facts


According to the Conference Board of Canada, if we were to decrease the number of inactive Canadians by even 10%, we’d see a 30% reduction in mortality and a major savings in health care. It is estimated that more than $2.4 billion, or 3.7 per cent of all healthcare costs, were attributed to the direct cost of treating illness and disease due to physical inactivity[1]. The financial impact of poor health amounts to a loss of more than $4.3 billion to the Canadian economy, and the negative repercussions of inactivity cost the healthcare system $89 billion per year in Canada[2]. According to several studies, properly structured and supported exercise programs, designed and delivered by a kinesiologist can:

  • Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease by 40%;[3]
  • Reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 50% and be twice as effective as standard insulin in treating the condition;[4]
  • Help the function of muscles for people affected by Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis;
  • Decrease depression as effectively as pharmacological or behavioural therapy;[5]
  • Reduce the risk of stroke by 27%;
  • Reduce the risk of colon cancer by 60%;[6]
  • Reduce mortality and risk of recurrent cancer by 50%;[7]
  • Reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease by almost 40% compared to those who are less active.[8]


Studies repeatedly show that physical activity is an important factor in reducing diabetes-related morbidity and maintaining quality of life. However, for several reasons, diabetes patients are still less active than nondiabetic individuals and one third are completely sedentary. To help reverse this deadly trend, research studies recommend getting professional support with your aerobic and resistance exercise training.

As part of National Kinesiology Weektaking place November 11 to 17, the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance is reminding Canadians affected by diabetes, that kinesiologists, as part of a professional health team, can help them to move better, live better.Throughout that week, Canadians are invited to take on the MoveBetterChallengeto find strategies and opportunities to lead a more active lifestyle.

 The healing power of physical activity

People are still mainly relying on medication for the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes. However, several studies show that exercise[1]can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 50% and be twice as effective as standard insulin in treating the condition. Physical activity and exercise are essential for the management of type 2 diabetes, providing benefits such as increased metabolic rate, increased insulin sensitivity, improved glycemic control and decreased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Based on research demonstrating the positive impact of physical activity, we recommend that individuals with type 2 diabetes participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week, and include resistance exercises two to three times a week, explains Hardip Jhaj, president of the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance -. “Despite these guidelines, we are concerned that the vast majority of Canadians who have type 2 diabetes do not meet the physical-activity recommendations.”

Where to turn for help

Patients generally turn to healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists as their primary sources of information and assistance on diabetes. Therefore, these healthcare professionals are key advocates that assist patients in incorporating physical activity into their diabetes management. However, evidence suggests that these professionals often report low confidence in their abilities to provide structured physical-activity counselling and report a lack of knowledge, training and resources.

Evidence also suggests that goal setting, problem solving, providing information on where and when to exercise, and self-monitoring (e.g. use of objective monitoring with pedometers) have some efficacy to increase physical activity and improve A1C levels. Newer evidence is starting to accumulate on the potential benefits of other motivational tools and techniques such as providing direct, instantaneous rewards (monetary or token-based) for goal completion, text messaging, mobile applications, social media and video games. However, further higher-level evidence is needed to demonstrate their benefits for both physical activity and diabetes-related outcomes.

What has been found to be the most effective way to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes is to follow a supervised program involving aerobic or resistance exercise. For example, a one-year randomized trial compared exercise counselling plus twice weekly supervised aerobic and resistance exercise versus exercise counselling alone in people with type 2 diabetes. The group receiving the supervised aerobic and resistance exercise training had significantly better results than counselling alone, including greater reductions in A1C, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference and estimated 10-year CV risk, and greater improvements in aerobic fitness, muscle strength and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Lack of time, obligations to others, lack of perception of obesity as a health issue, shame and physical restrictions are all factors that act as barriers to meeting the recommended level of physical activity,” continues Hardip Jhaj. “In our practice, we see that getting help from a kinesiologist can make a tremendous positive difference. With a personalized approach and ongoing motivational support, clients affected by diabetes can see how physical activities can drastically improve their quality of life.”

Kinesiologists are the only specialists in human movement who use science and research to offer movement as a medicine to anyone with a health goal, who wants a practical and personalized approach.


National Kinesiology Week is the perfect time to be more active and discover how a kinesiologist can help people meet the recommended guidelines. With its MoveBetterChallenge, kinesiologists from across the country want Canadians suffering from diabetes, and other chronic diseases, to move better.  During that week, people are invited to log their exercise minutes and/or kilometres to be part of a national cumulative challenge. Visit www.nationalkinweek.cato record walks, runs, rides, encourage others to move better to live better and so much more. Log your exercise minutes and kilometres to participate in the contest.



[1]To date, evidence for these improvements has been credited to aerobic and resistance exercises. The beneficial effects of other types of exercise is not as supportive.

[1] Based on year 2009. Jansen et al., 2012
[2] Based on year 2013.
[3] Cardiorespiratory fitness is an independent predictor of hypertension incidence among initially normotensive healthy women.Barlow CE et al. Am J Epidemiol 2006; 163:142-50.
[4] Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. DPP Research Group. New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 346:393-403.
[5] Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response.Dunn A et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005.
[6] Physical activity and colon cancer: confounding or interaction? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:June 2002 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – pp 913-919.
[7] Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.Holmes MD et al. JAMA 2005; 293:2479.
[8] The Role of Physical Activity in the Prevention and Management of Alzheimer’s Disease – Implications for Ontario. Ontario Brain Institute. 2013.

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