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A combination of regular physical activity and healthy eating are beneficial for Type 2 Diabetes.

Before introducing or increasing your Physical Activity, there are a few useful things to know. Understanding exactly how exercise helps to manage Type 2 Diabetes and the types of exercise that are safe is a great place to start.


How can exercise help with Type 2 Diabetes?

For many people, learning a bit about how exercise is used to manage Type 2 Diabetes can really increase motivation and adherence. It’s always good to have a basic understanding on what’s happening in your own body – knowledge is power!

  • Exercise increases glucose uptake by the muscles in processes that do not depend on insulin
  • Exercise can lower the dose of insulin required by improving the body’s response to insulin
  • By increasing glucose control (HbA1c) risk factors for coronary artery disease are decreased
  • Benefical side effects like improved functional capacity, balance and mental health


Is exercise safe for people with Type 2 Diabetes?

Yes! Not only is exercise safe, but it’s very beneficial and not exercising is where the danger lies. If you’re not used to exercise or you’re still learning to understand Type 2 Diabetes, it can be daunting. We’ve put together a few do’s and don’ts, but as with all exercise, you’ll get the most benefit with an individually prescribed exercise program. Checking your BGLs pre and post exercise is also important for safety and will help you see the effects of exercise, so if you don’t own a monitor, it might be time to invest!

Exercise to avoid

  • Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes should avoid exercise if their blood glucose is higher than 400 mg/dl (>22mmol)
  • If you’ve eaten within the last 2 hours, it’s recommended to recheck blood glucose after a light warm up to determine if it’s safe to exercise
  • For those with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) — avoid activities that involve strenuous lifting, high-impact or putting your head in an inverted position for extended periods of time
  • Patients with kidney disease can engage in moderate intensity activities, but should avoid strenuous activity
  • Exercising late in evening can increase risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia

Examples of beneficial exercise

A combination of cardiovascular and resistance based exercise has been shown to provide the most effective results in reducing and managing blood glucose levels.

Aerobic exercise

  • Target large muscle groups and full body movement with activities like walking, dancing or rowing
  • Non-weight bearing exercise such as swimming and cycling are great, especially for those with foot, knee or back pain
  • Cross training and bodyweight exercises are also beneficial
  • Gradually progress up to 40-60mins completed on 5-7 days each week

Strength training

  • Target major muscle groups using free weights, bodyweight or machine/cable weights
  • Leg press, chest press and lat pull down are all examples of resistance exercises for major muscle groups
  • Incorporate strength exercises into circuit and interval training sessions
  • It’s recommended to complete 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Gradually progress to complete strength training 2-3 days/week

Functional movement

  • Not all exercise needs to be structured. Small changes to your daily routine can make a huge difference in managing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Taking the stairs, gardening, mowing the lawn and a good stint of housework are all forms of Physical Activity
  • Functional movements like sitting and standing out of a chair 6-10 times are also great to include


If you have any questions about how to exercise safely with Type 2 Diabetes, please get in touch! You may be interested in Medicare’s Type 2 Diabetes Group program.