• The Importance of Exercise for Type 2 Diabetics

    Posted on June 5, 2013 by in Exercise

    diabetics and exerciseType 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. It occurs when you body stops producing enough insulin, or when your cells stop reacting to insulin. When your body stops producing insulin, your blood sugar level becomes very high, and you start feeling thirsty and tired all the time. Patients of type 2 diabetes suffer from frequent urination, and lose a lot of their weight, mostly in the form of muscle mass.

    Type 2 diabetics have to switch to a healthier, sugar free diet, and have to use medication in the form of tablets and insulin injections. Diabetics should look after their health more so than an average person, and should get periodic medical tests and checkups to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels. If you are not a type 2 diabetic, but are suffering from some of the symptoms we have mentioned earlier, you should visit your general physician immediately.

    If left untreated, it can cause severe damage to nerves and organs. Although this disease is chronic and cannot be completely cured, it can be controlled and a diabetic can live a normal and healthy life as long as they follow a strict diet and use medication.

    If you have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and are looking into the type of exercises suitable for you, this article will provide you with the information you need. In the following sections, you will learn all about exercise for type 2 diabetics, and will learn how to take better care of yourself through exercise.

    The Effect of Exercise on Sugar Levels

    When we exercise, our body consumes the sugar stored in our cells I the form of glucose. The glucose is burned as fuel, and the person faces low blood sugar levels as they proceed with the exercise session and more and more glucose is burned in the process. Therefore, people with type 2 diabetes should exercise, because it will help lower their already high blood sugar levels.

    That being said, there are a couple of things that type 2 diabetics need to take into consideration. For some patients, strenuous workout sessions and prolonged exercise has the opposite effect. As the body burns through the sugar stored in the cell, it recognizes the prolonged exercise as stress, and the liver starts pumping more glucose to make up for the lost sugar. This results in the person getting a higher blood sugar level at the end of the workout session. This does not happen to most patients, but you should check your blood sugar levels after exercise sessions just to be safe. If you see that you have a higher blood sugar level, contact your doctor and they will recommend better exercises or a change in medication.

    In some rare cases, your blood sugar levels may be too high for you to be performing any type of aerobic or anaerobic exercises. Again, your doctor is the best person to ask for advice in this regard. For most type 2 diabetics, exercise lowers blood sugar level, is a good way to keep all your organs performing at optimum levels, and is an important part of a healthier lifestyle.

    Benefits of Exercise on People with Diabetes Type 2

    Apart from lowering the blood sugar levels, exercise has many other benefits for type 2 diabetics. For some people the need for medication is reduced to an absolute minimum when a regular exercise is combined with a healthy diet.

    Similarly, exercise improves your cardiovascular conditioning, and lowers the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other heart related diseases. Exercise lowers the bad cholesterol in your blood and improves your blood flow. Your heart starts functioning better, and your overall health improves.

    Through exercise, you can also keep your BMI and body fat index at a desired level. You can maintain a healthy weight, and can be in a much better mood all the time. An improved mood is a great advantage for a type 2 diabetic, because sometimes the feeling of having a chronic disease can be quite depressing. Through exercise, you can improve your physical strength and conditioning, and can overcome the feeling of tiredness that often comes with type 2 diabetes. In short, the benefits of exercise are too many and too important for you to avoid it any longer.

    Types of Exercise You Can Try

    With your doctor’s advice, you can do pretty much anything from strength training to cardio. You can do aerobic exercises and cardio to improve your overall health, and to fight any stress and/or depression you might be feeling. You can take up fun exercises like swimming, hiking, or cycling, or can join a gym, use the stair master, and walk the treadmill. Either way you cannot go wrong with cardio.

    Although not very popular among type 2 diabetics, strength training has been found to be very effective in controlling blood sugar levels. Given that some patients tend to lose weight and muscle mass when on diet, the lean muscle mass can be attained and retained through weight training. However, do not go for vigorous training with heavy weights, and check the result of your workout sessions with lighter weights first.

    Getting Started

    • Visit you doctor and discuss the exercises most suitable for you.
    • Once you determine the right exercises for you, make adjustment in your routine and diet accordingly.
    • Make sure you include exercises that cater to cardiovascular conditioning, resistance training, strength training, and flexibility. It is best if you dedicate one or two days a week to each type of workout, unless your doctor advises against it.


    • Use ID bracelets or necklaces that mention that you are a diabetic.
    • Let your fitness trainer know that you have type 2 diabetes.
    • Workout with a partner.
    • Wear socks and protective shoes where applicable (in a gym, on a hike etc.).
    • Do some stretching and warm up exercises before you start a workout session.
    • Check your blood sugar levels before and after every workout session.
    • Visit your doctor periodically and report any physical problem you might have immediately, so that your exercise routine can be modified.

2 Responsesso far.

  1. I thank you for this article. I have a question. For exercise and diabetes if lifting weights is a higher repetition or heavy with eight to twelve reps (building muscle) more beneficial?


    • Elena Anne says:

      Hello Louis,
      The repetitions of a set depend on the weights you use. For low intensity, you use lighter weights and do 15 reps. in each set (3 sets for each muscle group is enough). For moderate intensity you can do 8-12 repetitions with heavier weights. Rest between sets 2-3 minutes and have one day off between sessions.

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