Physical Activity for Type 2 diabetes

Exercise or physical activity is important, whether you have diabetes or not. It has many benefits for your physical, psychological and emotional health.

Regular physical activity has many benefits

  • Increases muscle strength and bone mass
  • Improves circulation
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Reduces cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Reduces stress and tension
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves mental activity, and positive outlook

For the person with type 2 diabetes physical activity also improves the action of insulin in the body and lowers blood glucose levels. This can reduce the need for anti-diabetic medication.

In this 'Expert Update' clip, Adele Mackie, dietitian at DA–Vic, discusses why regular physical activity is so important, and how it benefits people with type 2 diabetes.

To view more clips from Adele and other diabetes experts, download the free RealTime Health type 2 diabetes app from the App Store or Google Play.

How much exercise is enough?

To have the greatest benefit, you need to exercise for a least 30 minutes on most days of the week. This can be broken down into shorter sessions of 10 -15 minutes each.

To lose weight, you need to exercise for at least 60 minutes on most days of the week.

It is important to make your activity fun to keep yourself motivated and not to give up. It is also important to make physical activity a regular part of your daily life. Try using the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the tram a stop earlier or park on the far side of the supermarket carpark .

To have the most benefit, activity should be done at a moderate intensity that will increase both your heart and breathing rate. When you are working at a moderate intensity you should still be able to talk, but be puffing too much to be able to sing.

Safety considerations before starting an exercise program

  • Have a checkup with your doctor and discuss your exercise plan
  • During exercise, stop and rest if you experience any pain or discomfort. Make sure that you have this checked out by your doctor before you resume further exercise
  • Carry some form of identification on you in case you are injured or feel unwell
  • If you take diabetes medications or insulin that can cause hypoglycaemia, always carry jelly beans or glucose tablets with you in case your blood glucose level drops too low – hypoglycaemia. Stop and treat hypoglycaemia immediately.
  • If you experience hypoglycaemia during or after exercise you should discuss this with your doctor or diabetes educator. Your medication may need to be reviewed
  • Wear good quality, well fitting, closed-in footwear as recommended by your podiatrist

More information

Find out more about the benefits of physical activity (PDF)

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