best exercise for people with type 2 diabetes
Medically Reviewed iconMedically Reviewedcevron icon

Exercise & Type 2 Diabetes

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 type 2 diabetes and exercise, how exercise might not only prevent the onset of the condition but also works wonders in managing the symptoms effectively .Also know about yoga exercise for diabetes

Exercise for 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. Also know how to reverse prediabetes.

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.

The benefits of physical exercise for people with type 2 diabetes

  • 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 reduce 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 help people with type 2 diabetes immensely. Doctors actively encourage people with type 2 diabetes to include exercise in their management plan. Here are the advantages associated with exercise:
  • Uses excess glucose – you will often see an immediate effect of exercise as it reduces the level of glucose in the body. Exercise triggers the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into the working muscles and organs within the body. Therefore, exercising post meals is also recommended
  • Builds muscles – Muscle training is highly underrated. However, the lower the muscle mass is, the more we hinder the capacity to clear glucose from the bloodstream. Muscle gaining is vital
  •  Weight loss – losing even 5-10% of the total body weight can significantly improve the A1c levels in only 2-3 months. This can be done with the help of exercise and diet planning
  • Reduce visceral fat – Abdominal fat, or visceral fat, plays a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

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.

Risks of not doing any exercise

and lower the blood sugar range but it is also proven to be highly effective in the long run as exercising can help improve insulin sensitivity and better overall health. However, many people do not understand the consequences associated with the lack of exercise. These may not be visible immediately but as the body functions begin to deteriorate, you will notice the effects of not having done enough workouts earlier.

Here are some of the major risks of no exercise:

  • Low cardiovascular fitness – In diabetes, due to the fluctuations in the sugar levels, your heart is anyway under a lot of stress. Not exercising can lead to lower cardiovascular fitness. People with diabetes are at 2x to 4x more risk for heart conditions. Several other health issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, etc are also more likely to occur with lack of exercise.
  • Elevated blood glucose levels – A sedentary lifestyle would lead to higher blood sugar levels. Studies have also linked elevated A1c levels to complications of diabetes that might relate to blood vessel damage. High blood sugar levels can also result in damage to the retina. Exercise can prevent damage to blood vessels

Also read about how to prevent diabetes

Book a Free Session

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.

Also read about are dates good for diabetes

What Kinds of Exercise Should You Do?

A diabetes workout is essential as it can lead to several benefits in the long run. If you are someone who knows and understands what kind of workouts need to be done, you will be able to manage yourself. However, if you are just starting, you may need some help in trying to figure out the type of exercise that you might require. Here

Are some type 2 diabetes physical exercise options:

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.

4. Brisk walk

walking can be pretty simple and is not stressful on the knees. Brisk walking with music can be relaxing and can also increase the heart rate as it is moderate in intensity. Walk for about 30 minutes 5 days a week

5. Weight training

This is important for muscle training. Plan for resistance exercises and weight training routines at least twice a week. This can be an active part of your diabetes management plan. Do these exercises under the guidance of a trainer, especially at the beginning

6. Yoga

Research shows that yoga can help manage diabetes as it can stimulate the flow of insulin in the body. The stretches and exercises can also burn body fat and use the excess glucose as energy.

7. Swimming

Swimming as an aerobic exercise is ideal for people with diabetes. It does not put pressure on the joints and is less stressful on the body. Swimming uses most of the body’s muscles

8. Cycling

This exercise, whether using a stationary cycle or a proper bicycle, is also an aerobic exercise that can make your heart and lungs stronger. It is also a calorie burner. Cycling reduces the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

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.

Other lifestyle remedies for type 2 diabetes

The treatment of type 2 diabetes is mainly related to lifestyle changes. People often look out for the best exercise for type 2 diabetes as it is one of the first things that come to mind as a helpful mechanism to deal with diabetes. Lifestyle changes like these do not work if they are conducted occasionally. They need to be a permanent part of life for the changes to be sustainable and long-lasting. Apart from exercise, other lifestyle changes that you can incorporate in your life are:

Balanced diet

A well-balanced diet would include all the appropriate nutritional quantities in a meal. The right portion of the right kind of food will be needed along with the limitation of non-nutritious food:


·         Whole grains (oats, brown rice)

·         Fruits and vegetable

·         Non-fried fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids)

·         Unsalted nuts, seeds, legumes, beans

·         Lean meats (chicken or turkey breast)


·         Sugary desserts, beverages, cakes, sodas

·         Salty foods

·         Fatty and processed meats

Manage weight

Excess body weight or obesity can make it much harder for a person with diabetes to be able to manage their blood sugar levels. Higher body weight means a greater need for insulin and deteriorated ability of your body to be sensitive to insulin. Losing body weight can help deal with diabetes. An area where you need to lose body weight would be the belly and abdominal fat. A higher percentage of abdominal fat also puts the person at a greater risk of developing diabetes.

Manage stress

Stress can also lead to unhealthy patterns of behavior like overeating or smoking. These can hurt blood sugar levels. Manage stress by taking brisk walks in nature, meeting friends, practicing hobbies, listening to music, playing sports, or seeking professional help.

Quit smoking

Smoking can raise blood sugar levels and increase the risk of diabetes. About a 30-40% increase in chances of developing diabetes is witnessed with higher smoking behaviors. Also read about how to cure diabetes permanently.


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. Also read about reversing diabetes


What is the Best Exercise for Diabetes Type 2?

If you have diabetes type 2 and are overweight, selecting the right set of exercises to manage your blood sugar (glucose) levels can be overwhelming. If you’re just starting, begin your healthy journey with activities like cycling, weightlifting, resistance band exercises, walking, swimming, aerobic dance, and calisthenics. These exercises are effective and can give excellent results when done consistently. Also know about reversing type 2 diabetes.

Can Diabetes Type 2 be Controlled by Exercise?

Exercising is a tried-and-tested way of improving insulin sensitivity throughout the body. If you are consistent with exercise for a significant period, you can manage to control your blood sugar levels. Although type 2 diabetes has rare chances of reversing, you can undoubtedly bring your blood sugar levels to the normal range. People with prediabetes can even reverse their condition with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

What Exercises Should Type 2 Diabetes Avoid?

Exercising is a practical, excellent way of keeping the body and blood sugar levels healthy, but not every exercise is designed for everyone. If you have diagnosed type 2 diabetes and are curating a highly impactful exercise plan, avoid including activities that can impact your joints. Running and jumping should not be in your plan if you’re just starting. 

When is the Best Time for a Type 2 Diabetes to Exercise?

People with diabetes type 2 should try to exercise after one to three hours of having a meal. Since food consumption boosts blood sugar levels, exercising after a few hours of a meal can help keep the blood sugar to normal. You can also use an insulin reader to check the blood sugar level before and after exercising to alter your plan accordingly.

Which is the best exercise for metabolic health?

Exercise, in general, is beneficial for people with diabetes. Any kind of exercise routine – walking, dancing, aerobics, strength training, etc can burn excess sugar in the body and can lead to a healthier weight. Try to incorporate a combination of these exercises into your routine to reap maximum benefits. 

Why is exercise good for type 2 diabetes?

The benefits of exercise for type 2 diabetes are plenty. Exercise can help lower blood sugar levels, better cholesterol levels, reduce weight, increases insulin sensitivity and promote healthier heart health. These benefits can not only reduce diabetes and its effects but can also lead to better health conditions in the long run.




This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.