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The Effects of Exercise on Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition which can affect the entire body. Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions in which there is too much glucose in the blood. There are different types of diabetes; all types are complex and serious. The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the body. This condition is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors and also has strong genetic and family related risk factors. Insulin is used for long-term control of blood sugar and almost all patients with type 2 diabetes will need it. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels which causes further health problems.


When you have type 2 diabetes, physical activity is an important component of your treatment plan. If you stay fit and active throughout your life, you’ll be able to better control your diabetes and keep your blood glucose level in the correct range. Exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you’re exercising. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re insulin resistant or if you don’t have enough insulin: when you exercise, your muscles get the glucose they need, and in turn, your blood glucose level goes down.


There are three main kinds of exercise: aerobic, strength training, and flexibility work. You should aim to have a good balance of all three. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, biking, and swimming and should aim to get at least 30 minutes for most days of the week. Strength training gives you efficient muscles and also helps maintain strong, healthy bones. This is effective for people with type 2 diabetes, since muscles use the most glucose, so if you can use them more, then you’ll be better able to control your blood glucose level. Lifting weights for 20-30 minutes two or three times a week is sufficient to get the full benefits of strength training. Make sure you combine this with flexibility training as you’ll improve how well your muscles and joints work.

Exercise plays a major role in the prevention and control of diabetes particularly in type 2 diabetes, insulin control and diabetes-related health complications. Both aerobic training and resistance training improve insulin action, at least acutely, and can assist with management of blood glucose levels. Exercise however must be undertaken regularly to have continued benefits and likely include regular training of varying types. By adopting these lifestyle changes, you will have a better rate of controlling and lowering your risk of developing diabetes and its serious complications. For more information on managing your type 2 diabetes, come in to see one of our friendly Exercise Physiologist.

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