How Exercise Affects Diabetes

Regular Physical Activity

Exercise helps control blood sugar levels, increases energy levels, improves heart health, and promotes emotional well-being. Barring other medical complications, the majority of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes can participate in, and benefit from, at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Always consult your healthcare team before starting a new exercise program.

Type 1 Diabetes

Exercise has many positive health benefits, including short-term blood glucose control, and is recommended for most people with type 1 diabetes.

Because exercise typically has a blood glucose lowering effect, people with type 1 diabetes need to pay particular attention to their blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise. They should also take certain measures to prevent blood sugar emergencies.

It's important to note that although exercise generally has a blood glucose lowering effect, for some people with type 1 diabetes an intensive workout can actually cause hyperglycemia, or high blood sugars, particularly if blood glucose levels were high prior to the workout. Monitoring blood glucose levels before and after working out and logging your glycemic response to different physical activities are important tools for safe exercise with type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Leading a sedentary (or inactive) lifestyle is one of the major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, and the high incidence of obesity and overweight among people with type 2 is also highly correlated with inactivity. Starting a workout program can lower body mass and consequently decrease the insulin resistance of type 2 diabetes; studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who exercise regularly have better A1c profiles than those who don't. Along with medical nutrition therapy, exercise is one of the first lines of defense in type 2 diabetes control.

In addition, exercise is a key tool in preventing one of the leading complications of type 2 diabetes—cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that regular activity lowers triglyceride levels and blood pressure.1


1 American Diabetes Association. "Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: Clinical Practice Guidelines." Diabetes Care. 27: 58S-62S.

Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08

Last Modified Date: July 17, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

More on this Topic

No items are associated with this tag

Sign up for FREE dLife Newsletters

dLife Membership is FREE! Get exclusive access, free recipes, newsletters, savings, and much more! FPO

You are subscribed!
You are subscribed!
You are subscribed!
2648 Views 0 comments
by Brenda Bell
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...
  • Watch dLifeTV online now!

    Click here for more info