The Best Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes

We all know we should exercise regularly for our health. But how do we navigate the conflicting expert opinions about what kinds of exercises are most effective? Should we do lots of cardio, or should we lift weights? How many days a week are required to get results?

Exercise for type 2 diabetics is important because it improves insulin resistance. When done regularly, exercise will lower blood glucose. Exercise also helps mitigate other health conditions that frequently occur with, or contribute to diabetes, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity.

Stop Overthinking Exercise

The absolute best exercise that you can do to improve your health, and improve your insulin resistance is whatever exercise you will do joyfully and consistently. Period. Find something that you enjoy, and perform it regularly.

Research show that 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise can improve your insulin resistance for 24-72 hours. That means 30 minutes of exercise done every day will have a compounding effect. To reap the maximum positive effect of exercise on insulin resistance, you should not go more than 2 days without exercising.

So You Hate to Exercise?

Let me share a secret with you: most people hate exercise when it is a new part of their lifestyle. When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011, I impulsively signed up to run a half-marathon. I was never a regular runner, and honestly didn’t like running when I had done it prior to my diagnosis. Why did I continue to try running when I didn’t like it? Because I was in love with the idea of being a fit, trim, healthy runner. I was also convinced that running would help me achieve my health goals.

The best thing I ever did for my health was push through the first couple of months; everything changed for me. I started enjoying it, I became fitter, and running started getting easier. I experienced rapid weight loss, and my blood sugars dropped like a rock.

Find a form of exercise you love to do, but give it some time before you decide. Try several things. Revisit the things you did when you were younger. Whatever you find enjoyable or fulfilling will be the best exercise you can do to manage type 2 diabetes.


Moderate to intense exercise can cause a decrease in blood sugars – that is the whole point to using exercise to help manage type 2 diabetes. However, a rapid decrease in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to exercise can be a medical emergency. Hypoglycemia is more common for diabetics who exercise and who take oral medications, and/or insulin. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program, especially if you take medication to control your blood sugars. Monitor your glucose closely during and after exercise.

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