The role of exercise to manage diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic condition where an individual does not properly regulate glucose (sugar) in the blood, resulting in elevated blood glucose. This is primarily due to your body’s inability to secrete or use Insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced from your pancreas that regulates your blood glucose level between a certain range. Normally an individual will produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels within an ideal range and removing excess sugar from the blood. Being diabetic decreases your body ability to remove the excess glucose from the blood, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels promoting further health concerns. 


Regular exercise is crucial for the management of diabetes and reducing the risk of diabetes-related pathologies and complications such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.  Exercise does not reverse diabetes or the pancreas ability to produce insulin, however, exercise does improve your muscle’s ability to respond to insulin, by improving its sensitivity. This means exercise helps regulate your blood glucose for approximately 18 hours after exercise. Furthermore, people with diabetes can see additional benefits of regular physical activity including:

  • Maintenance or weight loss
  • Reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol 
  • Optimal blood glucose levels
  • Improved sleep
  • Improve mood, stress and mental health


What type of exercise is best?

To see the best results, the research shows a combination of aerobic exercise (walking, cycling etc.) and resistance training lead to greater improvements for controlling blood glucose levels. If you are unsure with what exercise will be optimal for you to help with regulating your blood glucose levels, contact Medicine in Motion to book in with one of our accredited exercise physiologists and we can discuss how to manage your blood glucose levels and create an individualised exercise plan for you.

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