Meeting News CoveragePerspective

Exercise counseling integral component of diabetes education

NEW ORLEANS — Exercise counseling is an important aspect of a diabetes educator’s job, but it is often neglected, a presenter said here.

Robert Powell, PhD, CDE, CEP, stressed the importance of exercise counseling and discussed results from his study evaluating factors that could influence the ability of diabetes educators to counsel on physical activity during diabetes self-management education.

Robert Powell

Robert Powell

Powell explained that one of the most surprising parts of his presentation may be that many clinicians continue to underestimate the effects of an exercise regimen.

“I believe diabetes educators — and other providers — will be surprised by the concept of working with established clinical exercise physiologists as a medical home resource for their patients and how much of an impact an individualized, structured exercise program can have on HbA1c and medical cost savings,” he said. “This is no different than establishing relationships with specialists, dieticians, pharmacists and other clinical providers.”

In his survey-based study that included attendees from the American Association of Diabetes Educators third annual Pensylvania state diabetes conference, Powell found that 40.2% of diabetes educators knew there were established guidelines for vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity; 51% of those were able to correctly state the guidelines. Sixty-four percent knew there were established guidelines for resistance training and 98.6% of those knew the correct guidelines.

“Based on my results and the results of others, the next step for diabetes educators is education for ourselves,” Powell said. “We need to expand our knowledge on the effects of exercise in diabetes management, both benefits and barriers. This can be accomplished through many outlets such as webinars, obtaining an exercise certification, continuing education, etc.”

He added that another step would be to utilize resources within the medical home and throughout the community.

“We know where the dietician can be found, we know where all the pharmacies are located in a community and what the copay is based on insurance coverage,” Powell said. “Why don’t we know what is available in terms of exercise therapy? This is my challenge to diabetes educators. We must step out of our ‘traditional’ mindset and embrace the challenges of promoting the truly organic ‘pill’ that can help replace polypharmacy — exercise!” – by Amber Cox


Powell R. T15. Presented at: The American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting; Aug. 5-8, 2015; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Powell reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Sheri Colberg

Sheri Colberg

  • Powell is right in urging diabetes educators to seek out expert assistance for their patients when it comes to exercise. Part of the problem may be that while dietitians and other allied health professionals have to be fully credentialed, many exercise specialists have no training related to working with people with diabetes and are ignorant of their unique physical and mental needs related to physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine, a leading authority on exercise, will soon be offering certificate programs for fitness professionals working with diabetic patients that may make it easier for educators to refer them to equally qualified exercise specialists.

    • Sheri Colberg, PhD, FACSM
    • Professor of Exercise Science
      Old Dominion University
      Norfolk, VA
  • Disclosures: Colberg reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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