Relation Between Exercise & Type 2 Diabetes

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

The benefits of exercise need not be reiterated time and again. Everyone all over the world knows and understands the massive advantages they might receive if they exercise regularly. Many people have different motives to exercise – some might engage in it for passion, some might work out regularly for a fit body, exercise to play a particular sport, some do it for good health and as a preventative measure, while some others might engage in exercise because it is doctor-recommended. 

Especially when it comes to dealing with issues like lifestyle diseases, exercise and a healthy diet become a part of the daily regimen. There is a strong correlation between exercise and type 2 diabetes and how exercise might not only prevent the onset of the condition but also works wonders in managing the symptoms effectively. 

Exercise & Type 2 Diabetes

The onset of diabetes can occur at any age and stage in life. A part of why this condition can get super overwhelming for everyone could be the suddenness associated with it. The types of diabetes that occurs at an early age is called Type 1 Diabetes, while the one that occurs at a later stage is Type 2 Diabetes. T2D is essentially a lifestyle-related condition that occurs due to unhealthy eating, sleeping, or overall living conditions. 

Type 2 diabetes physical exercise is a supremely important component in the overall treatment plan. Physical exercise has several benefits that make it doctor-recommended. Along with exercises, a proper diet plan and constant maintenance and checking of blood sugar levels become a habit for people living with diabetes. Being fit and active will help keep these sugar levels under control and will reduce the risk of several complications and other diseases. In case the sugar level is haywire, there is a severe risk to the heart, kidneys, liver, etc which might only add to the plight of a person who has to deal with diabetes. 

Effect of Physical Activity on Mind and Body

While exercise for Type 2 Diabetes is necessary, that is not the only condition wherein being physically active can prove to be advantageous. There are several other ways in which having a good workout regime can be beneficial to your body and mind.

Exercise can have several physical health-related benefits:

  • It helps to keep the blood sugar levels in check which reduces the overall HbA1c levels as well. This is why Type 2 Diabetes physical exercise is emphasized a lot. It improves insulin resistance as well which helps the body to use the produced hormone (insulin) in a much better manner. 
  • Not only the three-monthly HbA1c but also the daily symptoms of high or low blood sugar can be managed with exercise. When we work out, the body’s muscles use up the extra glucose in the blood which helps lower the blood sugar levels rendering the need for extra insulin not immediately necessary. 
  • Long-term complications associated with diabetes or even otherwise can be mitigated via exercise. Heart problems, effective lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, etc are all possible with a proper workout routine. 
  • It also helps to keep the weight in control, which in turn, may prove to be beneficial in the case of T2D.

Exercise can also have several mental health-related benefits:

  • Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes works at both levels. When we work out, we can oxygenate the cells of the body and the brain. This oxygen to the brain assists in the relaxation of the brain and reduces the levels of stress
  • Exercises also release the happy chemicals in the brain called endorphins. These automatically reduce the effect of the stress hormone – cortisol

Exercising and regular exercising is important for all, most of all for people who are living with diabetes. Coming up with a routine and a fixed time for workouts would also increase the plasticity in the brain helping it adjust better and resist less.

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Before you begin Exercising

Not everyone is used to working out daily. For people who are just starting, it is important to be cautious and follow the guidance of a trainer or a coach. These trainers, along with the doctors, would be able to guide you through the best exercise for type 2 diabetes that you can follow. It is important to not overdo the working-out regime as it can cause more problems like severe hypoglycemia. 

People with diabetes have to be particularly careful before beginning to work out as they are several factors to take into consideration

  • Blocked arteries
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetic retinopathy or neuropathy
  • Low blood sugars before a workout, etc

Depending on the current fitness level, the doctors would suggest a regime that helps you set realistic goals for yourself. Remember to start slow and take regular breaks. Also, keep glucose handy in case the sugars drop suddenly. 

What Kinds of Exercise Should You Do?

Different exercises for different people work, you can start slow with walks or jogs, however, you can also go one step further and look at type 2 diabetes physical exercise in terms of variations of exercises.

1. Aerobic Exercises

30 minutes of any cardio or aerobic exercise most days of the week should do the trick effectively. To begin with, you can even start with smaller goals like 10 minutes of aerobic exercises and slowly increase it. Another method could also be by performing these acts of workouts in smaller units – 10 minutes at a time

Under aerobic exercises, you can do the following:

  • Walking/Jogging/Running
  • Sports like – tennis, basketball, swimming
  • Cycling
  • Dancing and Zumba, etc

Start slow and gradually up your time to even 60-75 minutes per day for best results. Increase your fitness and burn all the extra glucose in the body

2. Strength Training

After aerobic exercises, you can begin strength training exercises. This will help you gain stronger muscles and healthier bones. The overall benefit would be to replace the fat in the body with muscles which is the best exercise for diabetes. Since muscles use up most of the glucose in the body, this exercise would be more beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels. 

Under strength training exercises, you can:

  • Lift weights to strengthen arms, biceps, chest, back, leg muscles, etc
  • Undergo bodyweight training like pull-ups and planks, etc

Strength training should not be more than 20-30 minutes twice a week. 

3. Flexibility Training

This would help you improve the quality and efficiency of your muscles and joints. Stretching to improve flexibility before and after exercise would yield the best results as they would mitigate any muscle pulls or stiffness in the joints. Yoga is another great method to increase and effectively improve the flexibility of the body. It helps alleviate the soreness in the body and relaxes the muscles and the mind as well.

Create a Routine and Stick with It

It is important to enjoy the exercises you are engaging in, keep yourself motivated, and include friends and family in the plan. Give yourself rewards for following through to keep the motivation intact. To ensure this, it is important to create a routine and a proper schedule for workouts. This will help to achieve the best results. Since it is a long-term goal that will provide long-term benefits, it should be your priority to include exercise in your daily life. Keep yourself motivated to act in your best interest by using the techniques you deem fit. Keep your mind and body healthy in a natural way thus alleviating the need for medication and extra insulin. Manage your diabetes and other conditions along with your overall health with the help of routine exercises.


Exercise for diabetes is an underrated concept. Are you looking for motivating factors that would help you exercise regularly? Then this article is for you. Know how much to exercise, the different types of exercises, their overall benefits, etc. Make exercise a part of your daily life at the earliest.

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