Diabetics and Exercise

Importance of Physical Exercise For Diabetes Patients

Diabetics and Exercise

The importance of exercise and physical activity has been proven time and time again in a multitude of studies over the past few decades. For diabetics, exercising has been shown to be just as important as having a healthy and nutritious diet to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Even in healthy individuals, exercise helps improve blood circulation, prevents a build-up of plaque and helps oxygenate the blood, keeping the heart, vessels and the entire body healthy. Since diabetics face higher chances of cardiovascular diseases compared to other people, regular and vigorous physical activity is a crucial part to effectively reduce that risk.

Can exercise be effective in curbing or even curing diabetes?

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, the importance of exercise cannot be understated. Vigorous exercising can help you fight diabetes in several important ways:

1.Exercising helps deplete glycogen from your muscles (energy storing form of glucose) which lowers your overall sugar levels


2. Exercise increases your overall muscle mass, which creates more space for your body to store excess sugar properly, effectively and without harm to your body.

Thus, in the case of type 2 diabetes, exercise can help greatly improve your state and potentially – eventually! – even help cure diabetes. However, this will not be the case with type 1 diabetes or even type 2 diabetes not caused by insulin resistance.

Things to know about exercising with diabetes


If you are a busy person, it is a very good idea to exercise at any time of day, whenever you can find the time for it. However, for better results, you should avoid exercising early in the mornings before your first meal. Very often people believe that exercising before eating can lead to the body using stored fat and thus weight loss. Some even believe that it’s a good way to keep blood glucose lower while exercising and throughout the day.

However, early morning exercises may be detrimental to blood glucose levels control.

Many diabetes doctors advise avoiding exercising first thing in the morning before you have your breakfast. This is because, if you haven’t yet eaten and start to vigorously exercise, your body may increase the release of glucose-raising hormones to help fuel your activity. Instead of lowering your blood glucose levels for the day, it will actually raise them! To prevent a spike in blood glucose levels, try to exercise after a meal, never before.

How much to exercise

The correct answer is as much as you can within the norm prescribed by your doctor. Generally, 2 – 2.5 hrs per week is considered ideal. By exercising this much, you should be able to significantly lower your A1C levels within a few months (for people with Type 2 diabetes). For people with type 1 diabetes, the correlation isn’t as evident, but exercising is beneficial for overall body health in any case.

What type of exercising is best for diabetes?

Both cardiovascular and strength training exercises help lower blood sugar levels allowing a balanced and healthy glycemic level. However, while any exercise is better than none, if you are looking into losing some weight and better controlling your diabetes, you should pay greater attention to anaerobic exercise as opposed to aerobic exercises.

Some of the examples of anaerobic exercises are heavy weight lifting, hill climbing, interval training and other types of weight and resistance-related exercises. Aerobic exercises are such exercises as treadmill exercising, swimming, running, dancing, aerobics classes etc. Anaerobic exercises are great for diabetes patients because they tend to increase muscle mass. Most of the body glucose is stored in the muscles, and the more you have, the more productively the glucose will be stored and used for performance as opposed to harming your body. Regular exercise will also help you achieve a toned body and more defined muscles. Regular exercise increases muscle mass in the body, which in turn makes it more effective in burning fats. This will make you lean and strong, and help you deal with any extra weight you may have.  With excess weight gone, you will experience less pressure on the joints, significantly lowering the risks of joint problems.

A lot of people, particularly those who live a sedentary lifestyle, might have a hard time starting to follow a regular exercise program. Patience is key! Try to slowly incorporate the exercise program into a daily routine, and don’t give up if it takes time and effort.  Make sure to avoid rushing anything and exerting too much as it may pose a risk such of injury or your overall health getting worse instead of better. Exercise is great for everyone, including and especially for diabetes patients. However, as with everything, it is important to monitor your health and overall state and consult with your physician if you notice any signs of pain, discomfort or any other unusual symptoms while or after exercising.

Regular exercise will also help you burn more body fat. Exercise that is more constant trains the muscles, making the body burn more fats easily. Without excess fats in the body, there will be less pressure on the joints, significantly lowering the risks of joint problems and less strain on the muscles as there is no need to exert more strength in carrying a heavy body.

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