Why it is important and what type of exercise is best for Diabetics

Check out this infographic below from the World Health Organisation on the incidence of diabetes in the world…

First, thought is wow!

But how about in Australia? 

Read on to find out. 

The incidence of diabetes within Australia’s Society is on the rise and will continue to rise until Australian’s start to prioritise health above other areas of their life.


For those that aren’t aware, type 2 diabetes is often regarded as a lifestyle condition, which develops overtime and is a direct result of negative health choices such as poor diet, low-levels of physical activity as well as high levels of smoking and drinking.


To help counteract this ever-increasing problem, today’s blog will raise awareness around the major benefits exercise can have on the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

The blog will also be extremely useful for those who already suffer either type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes to better manage their condition and lead a healthier happier life.

Why is exercise important for diabetes?

Exercise can benefit all walks of life and should be considered a staple within everyone’s weekly routines.

However, it becomes even more important for people with diabetes mellitus, as exercise can play a vital role in the management of this chronic disease.

Due to the complex nature of diabetes, irreversible damage to the cells in the pancreas leads to a decreased production of insulin.

Although exercise cannot reverse the damage it helps regulate blood glucose levels during and after exercise.

Exercise increases glucose uptake by the muscles in ways that do not depend on insulin.

In addition, exercise can lower the dose of insulin required by improving the body’s response to insulin.

It is important for a diabetic to exercise correctly as those with this condition may have an increased risk of complications.


What Exercise is Best for a Diabetic?

As exercise can come in many different types, intensities, durations and more.

Today we will discuss the two best types of exercise that are most beneficial in the management of diabetes.

The first type is Aerobic Exercise, this form of exercise helps the body not only in the management of diabetes, but is also really great for improving general areas of our health.

It is really great for maintaining our heart and bone health, as well as reducing stress and improving circulation.

In terms of it’s effects in the management of diabetes, it can directly lower blood glucose levels.

As well as blood pressure and improving our cholesterol levels, two other closely related lifestyle issues.  

It is common knowledge that Individuals should aim for upwards of 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week or a total of 150 minutes per week.

Unfortunately, it’s is heard, but rarely achieved!

In fact, it is just NOT ENOUGH!


We are becoming more and more sendentary in our lives. We need much more then 30 minutes to offset the effects of this!

We Recommend: 

Aim for a at least a minimum of 60 minutes or more each day of walking!

Split it into 4×15 minutes, 2×30 minutes who cares how it is done, JUST GET MOVING and do it EVERY SINGLE DAY!


The second important type of exercise is Strength training or Resistance Exercise.  

Resistance exercise directly influences the bodies sensitivity to insulin, which in turn will assist in lowering circulating blood glucose levels.

Additional benefits of strength training include, maintaining muscle mass as we age, reducing the risk of other complications such as falls, osteoporosis and bone fractures.

An easy and simple way to look at the impact of strength training for those suffering with diabetes, specifically type 2, is that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn – even when your body is at rest.

We Recommend: 

Individuals should aim to undertake a form of strength training at the very least 3 times per week.

This is in addition to their aerobic activity such as walking.

The most beneficial forms of resistance training is a gym based exercise program. However,  resistance training can be achieved at home with an individualised home based exercise program utilising bands, free weight and/or simple resistance machines.

In our experience, we have found patients who have had the best results have been those who have been within a supervised environment, where correct technique can be taught well and monitored, motivation pushed and consistency maintained.

Call to book a diabetes assessment and exercise management plan HERE

Things to remember when exercising with diabetes

To ensure the safety of those who are beginning exercise for the first time, or returning after a layoff, below are some helpful tips that will make your exercise experience one to remember rather than forget.  

  • Ensure blood glucose levels are checked before, during and after exercise, to avoid problems
  • Avoid injecting insulin into exercising limbs.
  • To prevent foot ulcers; supportive shoes and well-fitting socks need to be worn and regular foot checks undertaken
  • Ensure you have a form of glucose (lollies, jelly beans, energy drink) nearby in case of an emergency.

The next step is to get started.. get out there and give it a go, you won’t regret it!

If you are still struggling with ways to develop a exercise routine that you can sustain please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the team at Fighting Fit Physiotherapy.

We have university qualified staff that have all the necessary training to help you better manage your condition and lead a healthier and lasting life