The Positive Effect of Exercise on Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic condition where the body cannot convert glucose from into energy properly, which results in accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. It is broken into 3 groups: T1dm, T2dm, and gestational diabetes. T1dm, is where the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system so less insulin is produced, increasing glucose in blood making them insulin-dependent. T2dm enough insulin is produced but there are issues with the receptor cells making them insulin resistant. In Australia approximately 1.7 million are affected by diabetes. 

Exercise is a valuable tool in the management of diabetes. Participating in exercise can increase lean muscle mass and a decrease in visceral fat improves blood pressure and improve glycaemic control which can lower the risk and potentially delay the disease progression.

As we exercise the body is able to utilise the glucose stored in the muscles which reduces the individual’s blood glucose levels (BGL), as the exercise intensity increases the more it is utilised. Both resistance and aerobic training increases GLUT4 availability and blood glucose uptake. Once exercise has finished lower BGLs may be experienced for up to 24hours, this is because the body has become more sensitive to insulin and needs to restore its glucose levels. 

Aerobic and resistance training are both found to be beneficial in the treatment/management of insulin resistance and improve blood glucose. It is recommended that individuals with diabetes should engage in at least 210 mins/wk of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 125 mins/wk of vigorous. Resistance training should be performed at least 2 x/wk on non-consecutive days (8-10 exercises for 8-10 reps, 2-4 sets).


Colberg, S., Sigal, R., Fernhall, B., Regensteiner, J., Blissmer, B., & Rubin, R. et al. (2010). Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement executive summary. Diabetes Care, 33(12), 2692-2696. doi: 10.2337/dc10-1548

Hordern, M., Dunstan, D., Prins, J., Baker, M., Singh, M., & Coombes, J. (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, 15(1), 25-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2011.04.005

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