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Exercise Recommendations for People With Type 2 Diabetes

At CPT, part of our expertise is creating exercise programs for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes. We’d like to share this information from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which recently updated its guidelines on exercise for people living with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than 463 million people worldwide, and type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all cases. Research in exercise science confirms that physical activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well as help patients manage its effects.

“Exercise can play an important role in managing type 2 diabetes, and workouts can be modified to fit the abilities of most people,” says lead author Jill A. Kanaley, Ph.D. “Those with type 2 diabetes who want to lose weight should consider workouts of moderately high volume for four to five days per week.”

In addition to Kanaley’s recommendations, here are five more things to remember when being physically active with type 2 diabetes:

  • Small “doses” of physical activity throughout the day to break up sitting time can have a beneficial effect on blood glucose and insulin levels.
  • Regular aerobic exercise helps manage blood glucose.
  • High-intensity resistance exercise benefits those with type 2 diabetes more than low- to moderate-intensity exercise.
  • Being active after meals reduces blood glucose.
  • While consistent aerobic exercise can help keep blood glucose in check, working out takes energy, so those with type 2 diabetes should consider lowering their insulin a bit if they can, or adding in a few more carbs before they hit the gym to avoid a crash.

“The latest guidelines are applicable to most individuals with diabetes, including youth, with a few exceptions and modifications,” Kanaley says. “All individuals should engage in regular physical activity, reduce sedentary time and break up sitting time with frequent activity breaks.”

If you want to learn more about ACSM’s latest exercise recommendations for people with type 2 diabetes, read the full consensus statement.

For information about how our physical therapists can help you prevent or manage type 2 diabetes or other chronic conditions, please contact us.