Exercise Recommendations For Diabetes Type 2

What Is Diabetes Type 2?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin. This means your blood glucose (sugar) levels keep rising.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

  • We all need insulin to live. It does an essential job.
  • It allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies.


When you have type 2 diabetes, your body still breaks down carbohydrate from your food and drink and turns it into glucose. The pancreas then responds to this by releasing insulin. But because this insulin can’t work properly, your blood sugar levels keep rising. This means more insulin is released.

  • For some people with type 2 diabetes this can eventually tire the pancreas out, meaning their body makes less and less insulin.
  • This can lead to even higher blood sugar levels and mean you are at risk of hyperglycaemia.

Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar (glucose) as a fuel.

The levels of sugar, or glucose, build up in your bloodstream.Normally the hormone insulin helps move glucose from your blood to your cells, where it’s used for energy. But with type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells are unable to respond to insulin as well as they should.

In later stages of the condition, your body may also not produce enough insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that’s created when glucose levels build up in your bloodstream often triggered by certain lifestyle choices.

Type 2 diabetes can be managed — and even reversed — with certain lifestyle changes like exercises. For more severe cases, medication is available.

Signs and Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Signs and Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Signs and Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, your body isn’t able to effectively use insulin to bring glucose into your cells causing your body to rely on alternative energy sources in your tissues, muscles, and organs which may cause a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms may include:

  • constant hunger
  • lack of energy
  • fatigue
  • eye problems (diabetic retinopathy)
  • feelings of numbness in your extremities, or neuropathy
  • kidney disease (nephropathy)
  • gum disease
  • heart attack or stroke
  • excessive thirst
  • frequent urination
  • blurry vision
  • pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands or feet

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and can cause some potentially dangerous complications.

Type 2 diabetes diagnosis and test

You should see your doctor right away if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of diabetes as stated above. Diagnostic testing may include the following:

Hemoglobin A1C test.

  • This test measures average blood glucose levels for the previous 2 or 3 months.
  • You don’t need to fast for this test, and your doctor can diagnose you based on the results.
  • Also called a glycosylated hemoglobin test.

Fasting plasma glucose test.

  • This test measures how much glucose is in your plasma.
  • You may need to fast for 8 hours before taking it.

Oral glucose tolerance test.

  • Your blood is drawn three times: before, 1 hour after, and 2 hours after you drink a dose of glucose.
  • The test results show how well your body deals with glucose before and after the drink.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

  1. Your body becomes resistant to insulin. Your body is no longer using the hormone efficiently. This forces your pancreas to work harder to make more insulin.Over time, this can damage cells in your pancreas. Eventually, your pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin.
  2. Living with excess weight. When you’re living with excess weight, you most likely have more fatty tissue, which can make your cells more resistant to insulin.
  3. Living a more sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity helps your cells respond better to insulin.
  4. Eating a lot of highly processed foods. Highly processed foods can have a lot of hidden sugar and refined carbs.
  5. If you don’t produce enough insulin or if your body doesn’t use it efficiently, glucose builds up in your bloodstream. This leaves your body’s cells starved for energy. May have to do with cell dysfunction in the pancreas or with cell signaling and regulation.
  6. Genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes in your family
  7. If you are Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or of Alaska Native descent

Diet for type 2 diabetes

The diet recommended for people with type 2 diabetes trickles  down to a few key actions:

  • Choose foods that are high in nutrients and low in empty calories.
  • Read food labels closely to understand the amount of sugar or carbs you could be ingesting in a serving size.

Foods And Beverages To Limit

  • Sugary drinks (like regular soda and some fruit juices)
  • Foods heavy in saturated or trans fats (like red meat and full-fat dairy products)
  • processed meats (like hotdogs and salami)
  • margarine
  • refined baked goods (like white bread and cake)
  • high-sugar, highly processed snacks (packaged cookies and some cereals)

    It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about dietary restrictions based on your blood sugar levels. Some people may need to monitor their glucose more carefully than others after eating these foods.

Foods To Choose

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes does not mean carbs are off the table. Healthy carbohydrates can provide you with energy and fiber. Some options include:

  • whole fruits
  • non-starchy vegetables (like broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower)
  • legumes, like beans
  • whole grains, like oats or quinoa
  • sweet potatoes
  • Foods with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids include:
  • tuna
  • sardines
  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • halibut
  • cod
  • flax seeds

Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from a number of foods, including:

  • oils, like olive oil
  • nuts, like almonds, pecans, and walnuts
  • avocados

Talk with your doctor about your personal nutrition goals or a dietician who’s well-versed in optimal diets for diabetes.

Exercise Recommendations For Diabetes Type 2

Tips For Exercising When You Have Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise Recommendations For Diabetes Type 2

The American College of Sports Medicine and American Diabetes Association recommend that patients with type 2 diabetes participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly with resistance training two or three times weekly


Tips on Physical Activity and Type 2 Diabetes

  • Exercise should be undertaken regularly since in many cases, acute effects of aerobic exercise may not last even 24 h.
  •  Exercise does not necessarily need to be prolonged to result in enhanced insulin sensitivity, but if shorter in duration, engaging in harder workouts or high-intensity intervals will increase its impact
  • To achiever better glycemic management, engaging in combined aerobic and resistance training appears to be superior to undertaking either type of training on its own.

Adults should ideally perform both aerobic and resistance exercise training for optimal glycemic and health outcomes which I firmly believe to be an excellent recommendation.

Exercise training recommendations.

Aerobic Resistance Flexibility and balance

AerobicResistanceFlexibility and balance
Type of exercise
  • Prolonged, rhythmic activities using large muscle groups (e.g., walking, cycling, and swimming)
  • May be done continuously or as high-intensity interval training
  • Resistance machines, free weights, resistance bands, and/or body weight as resistance exercises
  • Stretching: static, dynamic, and other stretching, yoga,
  • Balance (for older adults): practice standing on one leg, exercises using balance equipment, lower-body and core resistance exercises, tai chi
IntensityModerate to vigorous (subjectively experienced as “moderate” to “very hard”)
  • Moderate (e.g., 15 repetitions of an exercise that can be repeated no more than 15 times) to vigorous (e.g., 6–8 repetitions of an exercise that can be repeated no more than 6–8 times)
  • Stretch to the point of tightness or slight discomfort
  • Balance exercises light to moderate intensity
DurationAt least 150 min/week at moderate to vigorous intensity for most adults with diabetes. For adults able to run steadily at 6 mph/9.7 kmph for 25 min, 75 min/week of vigorous activity may provide similar cardioprotective and metabolic benefitsAt least 8–10 exercises with completion of 1–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions to near fatigue per set on every exercise early in training
  • Hold static or do dynamic stretch for 10–30 s; 2–4 repetitions of each exercise
  • Balance training can be any duration
Frequency3–7 days/week, with no more than 2 consecutive days without exerciseA minimum of 2 non-consecutive days/week, but preferably 3
  • Flexibility: ≥2–3 days/week
  • Balance: ≥2–3 days/week


Tips for preventing type 2 diabetes

While you can’t always prevent type 2 diabetes, there are a few lifestyle tips can help delay, or even prevent, the onset.


  • Diet. The best kind of diet to prevent type 2 diabetes is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs, healthy fats, and very little refined sugar.
  • Exercise. According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source, the optimal amount of exercise a week for adults is 150 minutes, which can translate to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The Physical Activity Guidelines also recommend a combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic activity.
  • Weight management. Keeping a moderate weight is a good way to avoid chronic complicationsTrusted Source, including type 2 diabetes.

Breakfast Ideas When You Have Diabetes

Diabetes won’t stop you from enjoying your food, but knowing some simple hacks and swaps will help you choose healthier options and make planning your meals a little easier. These ideas may not look much different from what you eat already, and your favourite recipes and meals can usually be adapted to be healthier without you noticing too much difference.

Here are some healthy breakfast ideas to choose from:

  • a bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk
  • two slices of wholegrain toast with olive oil-based spread
  • a pot of natural unsweetened yogurt and fruit
  • two slices of avocado with a hardboiled egg.

Lunch Ideas When You Have Diabetes

Here are some healthy lunch ideas to choose from:

  • a chicken or tuna salad sandwich
  • a small pasta salad
  • soup with or without a wholegrain roll
  • a piece of salmon or tuna steak and salad.

Think about having a piece of fruit or a pot of natural unsweetened yogurt afterwards too.

Dinner Ideas When You Have Diabetes

Here are some healthy dinner ideas to choose from:

  • lasagne and salad
  • roast chicken and vegetables, with or without potatoes
  • beef stir-fry and vegetables, with or without brown rice
  • chicken tortillas and salad
  • salmon and vegetables, with or without noodles
  • curry with chickpeas and brown rice



  • It is important for type 2 diabetic kids and adults to be more physically active.
  • Their goal should be to meet the activity goals recommended for all youth, which consists of 60 minutes per day or more of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, with vigorous, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days/week ().
  • Few studies have been done to examine the impact of exercise training and interventions in youth with type 2 diabetes, and  it can be assumed that the health and glycemic benefits they would gain are similar to those experienced by adults with type 2 diabetes ().


  1. Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Volume 32(7) July 2000 pp 1345-1360
  2. Diabetes • Type 1 • Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) • Juvenile • Type 2 • Non- Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM • Adult onset (less so recently) • Gestational (temporary) • Secondary (pancreatitis, etc.)
  3. Glucose Uptake • Normal glucose uptake • Insulin • GLUT-1 and GLUT-4 • Effective transport • Glucose uptake in diabetes • Insulin (Type I) • GLUT-1 and GLUT-4 (Type II) • Defective transport

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