Part 3: What type of exercise will improve my Type 2 Diabetes? Can it be reversed?

In the last two weeks, we have looked into what Type 2 diabetes is and how common it is within Australia. We have discussed what increases our risk of Type 2 diabetes and there was a tool to self-assess whether or not you were at risk of having it.

(if you missed it, here is the link

The most important information from our last blog post was about how changing your lifestyle can significantly prevent or at least delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. At Balanced Bodies Lifestyle Clinic we are here to help you fit exercise into your lifestyle to prevent or manage Type 2 diabetes. This week we will get into the specifics of what kind of exercise is most effective.

What exercise works for Type 2 diabetes?

Defining some terms

Aerobic exercise is usually defined as recruiting numerous muscle groups in a continuous manner (for example, walking, cycling or swimming).

Resistance exercise is also known as strength training. This includes the use of resistance to muscular contraction which results in increased endurance, muscle mass size or strength (for example, body weight exercises, theraband exercises, free weights or machine weights).

Just like medicine, we can talk about how often and how long we should exercise for in order to get an outcome. For Type 2 diabetes, the outcome we want is reduced blood sugar levels. Therefore, we must consider what kind of exercise works best to reduce blood sugar levels.

What is recommended?

The main consensus is that a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise may be more effective for blood glucose management than either type of exercise alone.

How does it work?

Exercise can:

1.     Improve insulin sensitivity

When you eat carbohydrates, such as glucose or sugars, your body releases the hormone insulin. This tells your cells to take up sugar from the blood and to store it as energy. When you increase insulin sensitivity, this means that your cells are better able to use available insulin to take up glucose during and after physical activity.

2.     Exercise tells your body to take up sugar independently from insulin

Exercise has been shown to help take up sugar from the blood in a way completely separate from the use of insulin. It activates a pathway that allows your cells to take up glucose and store it as energy. This is how exercise can help lower your blood glucose in the short term. And when you are active on a regular basis, it can also lower your HbA1C (long term measure of your blood sugar levels).

3.     Exercise and diet can prevent the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes

Lifestyle interventions which include targeted physical activity and nutritional goals have been highly successful in preventing the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. A widely regarded study in the US called the Diabetes Prevention Program reported a 58% reduction in the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes from a 4-year lifestyle intervention that prescribed 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise and a dietary change program to result in a 7% weight loss.

What are some other good outcomes of exercise?

·      As a result of including exercise in the treatment of diabetes, the improvement in control of blood sugars can result in the reduction in the use of Type 2 Diabetes medications.

·      Many people who may have diabetes can also have other chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy, high fall risk and depression. In all these conditions, targeted exercise prescription has been able to provide significant symptom relief. Therefore, the benefits of exercise for people who have Type 2 Diabetes may have wider ranging outcomes that can improve quality of life and overall wellbeing.

Why an exercise physiologist?

Exercise physiologists are university-qualified health professionals who are trained to understand how to prescribe exercise for specific health issues such as diabetes and to improve the overall health and wellbeing. They understand the complexities of chronic conditions and how best to implement exercise that is safe, effective and holistic. To find out more how an exercise physiologist can assist you in preventing or managing Type 2 Diabetes, contact us at or call 0419 287 631.