Benefits of physical activity for people with type 2 diabetes

In people with type 2 diabetes, healthy eating and physical activity/exercise undertaken alongside other therapies lead to important benefits:

  • Improve blood glucose control, enable insulin ‘to work better’
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Maintain or lower body weight
  • Improve mood, well-being and self esteem
  • Improve musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis

Frequency and intensity of exercise[1]

Guidelines are the same as for people without diabetes:

  • Aim for 150 min per week of moderate-intensity exercise, split over at least 3 days
  • Include 2 to 3 sessions per week of resistance exercise
  • Keep sessions short at the beginning; do not push yourself too hard
  • Start with a warm-up and finish with a cool-down (allow 10–20 min for each)

How intense should exercise be?

When exercising, you should be able to hold a conversation without being breathless

Which type of exercise is best for me?

The best kind of exercise is something you enjoy and is convenient!

Reminders for when you exercise[2]:

Check glucose values before and after exercise, and during intense exercise

Drink water before, during and after exercise

High or low blood sugar allows you to anticipate hypo/ hyperglycaemia and to take corrective action

[1] ADA. Diabetes Care 2017;40(suppl 1):S1–S138; Siga et al. Diabetes Care 2006;29:1433–8

[2] ADA. Diabetes Care 2004;27(Suppl. 1):S58–62; Siga et al. Diabetes Care 2006;29:1433–8




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