Importance of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise plays an important role in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes and controlling blood glucose levels in those diagnosed with pre-diabetes and diabetes. (Horden, 2012)

The benefit of improved cardiovascular fitness, body composition, physical function and well-being also reduces the risk of developing other medical conditions associated with diabetes such as heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.

Effects of Exercise

Research studies on exercise physiology and diabetes have shown that:
  • Exercise improves the insulin sensitivity which means circulating insulin will be more effective at controlling blood glucose levels and therefore the pancreas will not produce such high levels of insulin as seen in insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes. High blood insulin levels decrease the body’s ability to burn fat and accelerate weight gain. (Winnick J.j, 2008)
  • When muscles contract during exercise, the number and function of glucose transporters (GLUT4) increase the uptake of glucose into the muscle cells for energy, decreasing circulating levels of blood glucose. (Santos J.M, 2008) (Holten M.K, 2004)
  • Exercise also improves the structure of muscles, increasing capillarisation and blood flow, increasing strength and size while reducing the risk of age related muscle loss.
  • Through exercise training and improved blood glucose control, patients commonly require less medication or a reduction in type 2 diabetes medications. (Dunstan D.W, 1998)
  • The greatest benefit occurs in people with the poorest metabolic control. (Horden M.D, 2008)

The Right Kind of Exercise for Diabetes

When starting an exercise programme for diabetes it is essential to consider all risks associated with exercise and any other medical condition that may affect your ability to exercise. An exercise physiologist is trained to design suitable exercise programmes for you and provide you with all the considerations important to know when exercising with diabetes.

Below are the current recommendations by Exercise & Sport Science Australia for people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

For more information please contact us on (07) 4957 7997 or email us at [email protected].


Dunstan D.W, P. I. (1998). Effects of short-term circuit weight training programme on glycemuc control in niddm. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 53-61.
Holten M.K, Z. M. (2004). Strength training increases insulin-mediated glucose uptake, glut4 content, and insulin signalling in skeletal muscles in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, 294-305.
Horden M.D, C. L. (2008). Determinants of changes in blood glucose reponse to short-term exercise training in patients with type 2 diabetes. Clin Sci (Lond), 273-281.
Horden, M. D. (2012). Exercise Prescription for patients with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: A position statement from Exercise and Sport Science Australia. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 25-3.
Santos J.M, R. S. (2008). Skeletal muscle pathways of contraction-enhanced glucose uptake. Int J Sports Med, 785-794.
Winnick J.j, S. W. (2008). Short-term aerobic exercise training in obese humans with T2DM improves whole body insulin sensistivity through gains in peripheral, not hepatic insulin sensitivity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 771-778.