Type 2 Diabetes: How Can Exercise Help Manage Diabetes?

diabetesExercise is often part of treatment programs for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. When it comes to managing this complicated disease, there are a number of treatment options, but two of the most popular are diet and exercise.

Exercising to Avoid High Blood Sugar

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent across the United States, and as more people are becoming diagnosed with diabetes, it is even more important to discuss how minor life changes can lead to major improvements in health. Plunkett Fitness’ personal trainers can help people with type 2 diabetes stick to a fitness regimen that will keep their blood sugar levels in check.

Exercise makes controlling blood sugar levels easier by reducing the amount of glucose in the blood. People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose in their blood because their bodies either don’t produce enough insulin or don’t use insulin properly. When you exercise, your muscles use up the glucose in your blood without the need for insulin. As your muscles take in that glucose, your blood sugar levels drop. For type 2 diabetics who are insulin resistant, exercise makes the insulin in your body more effective.

Exercising to Avoid Further Complications

People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to deal with other health issues as well, such as heart problems. Regular exercise helps keep the heart strong and healthy and even helps maintain good cholesterol.

Other benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Stronger bones
  • Better weight control
  • Leaner, stronger muscles
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Less stress
  • Improved mood

Exercises That Help People with Diabetes

Recent studies show that only about 39 percent of people with diabetes get regular exercise. For people with diabetes, exercise is extremely important, so we have compiled a list of exercises that are great options for people with diabetes.


Walking is one of the easiest exercises for people, and this is no exception for people with diabetes. For many people with diabetes, walking is the first exercise activity prescribed by their doctor. A brisk walk raises the heart rate and qualifies as an aerobic activity. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes not go more than two consecutive days without some form of aerobic exercise.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a series of slow, relaxed movements that usually take about 30 minutes to work through. While this exercise helps keep people active and reduces stress, it also improves balance. Tai Chi may even help reduce nerve damage, which is a common problem for people with diabetes.

Weight Training

Lifting weights can help build muscle mass, which is important for people with type 2 diabetes, as the loss of muscle mass can make it harder to maintain an ideal blood sugar level. Two or three weight training sessions a week can help you feel stronger, as well as help regulate blood sugar.


Yoga helps reduce body fat, fight insulin resistance, and improve nerve function, as well as reduce stress, which can help reduce blood sugar levels. The biggest advantage of yoga for people with diabetes is that it can be done as often as the person wants. In addition, yoga can help reduce the risk of depression.


Swimming is a great exercise option for people with diabetes because it doesn’t put pressure on the joints. This aerobic exercise is also less likely to cause damage to the feet, which is especially important for people with diabetes, as the disease often reduces the flow of blood to the extremities, and loss of sensation is common. The lack of blood flow also makes it harder for injuries on the feet to heal properly, and these cuts and blisters can often become infected.

Stationary Bicycling

As a form of aerobic exercise, stationary biking can make both your heart and lungs stronger. In addition to being good for your heart and lungs, biking also helps improve blood flow to the legs, which can help people with diabetes prevent the swelling of their feet. Plus, biking burns a lot of energy. Stationary biking is also possible year-round, and there is no risk of getting injured or getting a flat tire and having to seek out help while on a bike ride.

Before You Start Exercising

It is important to set-up a reasonable exercise plan with your doctor before ever hitting the gym if you have diabetes. You should have the health of your heart checked, as well as set realistic goals with your doctor.

Talk to your doctor about how often to check your blood sugar and what you should keep on hand in case your blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels during your workout. It is also important that you keep yourself hydrated during exercise.

For help with weight training, you can consult with a personal trainer at Plunkett Fitness. Our Overland Park personal trainers can develop a program that will help you feel stronger and leave your blood sugar levels more stabilized. With the help of information with your doctor, a trainer can also help develop a nutrition plan. Schedule a training session with Plunkett Fitness by calling 913-390-3360.

While the trainers at Plunkett Fitness are experts in fitness, there is no substitute for a doctor. If you have type 2 diabetes, consult with your doctor before starting any new workout routine.