A diabetic’s exercise programme should address the following goals:-

  • To help control blood sugar
  • To maintain ideal weight
  • To improve quality of life
  • To avoid developing diabetes complications

The primary role of exercise is usually seen as aiding glucose control by decreasing insulin resistance (by improving insulin sensitivity) and promoting glucose uptake.

Points to consider

  1. The improvement in insulin sensitivity after exercise is short-term and soon diminishes. A well trained athlete’s insulin sensitivity decreases after as little as 3 days of inactivity, and is restored by a single bout of exercise. Exercise adherence therefore is vital.
  2. Less body fat leads to a reduction in insulin resistance. This is a general effect of exercise, but also reductions in adiposity have been associated with less insulin resistance. Often weight loss is the only treatment Type II diabetics require.
  3. Less risk of cardiovascular disease.
  4. Less stress. Stress can disrupt diabetes control by increasing counter regulatory hormones, ketones, free fatty acids and urine output.
  5. Prevention of Type II diabetes. There is a theory that taking action to decrease blood sugar levels in “pre-diabetic” phase may well delay the onset and lessen the risks of later complications.