Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition affecting millions of people worldwide. While medication and dietary changes play a crucial role in its management, there are remarkable benefits of exercise in managing diabetes. Regular exercise can be a powerful tool to control blood sugar levels, improve overall health, and reduce the risk of complications in people with diabetes. In this article, we will explore the numerous benefits of exercise for individuals with type 2 diabetes and provide guidance on the best types of exercises to incorporate into your routine.

Six Benefits of Exercise on Diabetes

1. Improved Insulin Sensitivity:

Exercise has a profound impact on insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to use insulin more effectively. By engaging in physical activity, the muscles become more responsive to insulin, which leads to better blood sugar control. Regular exercise can help reduce insulin resistance and may even decrease the need for diabetes medication over time.

lady with diabetes exercising

2. Weight Management:

Obesity and excess body weight are significant risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes and can worsen the condition in those who already have it. Regular exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can help with weight management and contribute to achieving and maintaining healthy body weight. Shedding excess pounds reduces insulin resistance and improves overall metabolic health.

3. Cardiovascular Health:

Type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Exercise, particularly aerobic activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, strengthens the heart and improves cardiovascular fitness. Regular aerobic exercise can help lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, increase HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and enhance overall cardiovascular function.

4. Enhanced Energy Levels and Mood:

Living with diabetes can sometimes be challenging, and feelings of fatigue and mood swings are not uncommon. Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to boost energy levels and improve mood by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. These positive effects can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression often associated with managing a chronic condition like diabetes.

5. Improved Long-Term Health Outcomes:

Consistent exercise can have a profound impact on long-term health outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes-related complications, such as neuropathy (nerve damage), nephropathy (kidney disease), retinopathy (eye damage), and cardiovascular events. Exercise also plays a crucial role in preventing or managing other chronic conditions such as hypertension, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

Group of women exercising with a physiotherapist

Choosing the Right Exercises:

When it comes to exercise, it’s essential to find activities that you enjoy and can incorporate into your daily routine. Here are some recommendations for the best types of exercise for individuals with type 2 diabetes:

  1. Aerobic Exercise: Engage in moderate-intensity aerobic activities like walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, or using cardio machines. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise spread throughout the week.

  2. Strength Training: Include resistance exercises that target major muscle groups, such as lifting weights, using resistance bands, or practising bodyweight exercises. Perform strength training exercises at least two days a week, allowing a day of rest in between sessions.

  3. Flexibility and Balance: Incorporate stretching exercises to improve flexibility and balance, such as yoga or Pilates. These activities can help prevent injuries and maintain joint mobility.
  4. Interval Training: Consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which alternates short bursts of intense exercise with recovery periods. HIIT workouts can be effective for improving insulin sensitivity and burning calories in a shorter amount of time.

Exercise is a powerful tool in managing type 2 diabetes and offers numerous benefits for overall health and well-being. By improving insulin sensitivity, controlling blood sugar levels, aiding weight management, promoting cardiovascular health, and enhancing mood, regular physical activity plays a vital role in reducing the risks associated with diabetes and improving long-term outcomes. Find activities you enjoy and aim for a well-rounded exercise routine that includes aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility exercises, and, if suitable, high-intensity interval training. Always consult with your healthcare team before starting any exercise program and monitor your blood sugar levels accordingly. Remember, small steps towards an active lifestyle can lead to significant positive changes in managing type 2 diabetes.

How can Activate Physiotherapy Help?

At Activate Physiotherapy, our team of health and exercise professionals are trained to assist people to exercise considering their unique situation. They can tailor an exercise program to suit your goals and ability to ensure you exercise safely and enjoy the benefits of exercise in helping you manage your diabetes. To make a booking click on your nearest clinic: Tingalpa or Stafford.

For more information head to Exercise Right.