10 Best Exercises For Type 2 Diabetes: The Fitness Mantra for Diabetics

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Arjun Subash Kalasapur, MBBS, MD (Medicine) January 20, 2022

Last updated on September 7th, 2023

Physical inactivity is the major contributing factor in the proliferation of several diseases. Therefore, if you want to stay fit and healthier, take out the time from your busy schedule and exercise. Regular exercise is the secret of keeping away several illnesses from you. Exercise becomes more important especially, for people with diabetes. It is the crucial step to manage your blood sugar in addition to your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Read this blog to know about the best exercise for type 2 diabetes.

Exercise Benefits Insulin Health in Different Ways


Exercise burns extra calories and keeps your body weight healthy.  It also boosts the metabolism of your body for better health and maintains your blood sugar levels. When you exercise, working muscles use blood glucose and convert them to energy which ultimately lowers your blood sugar levels

Doctors often recommend people with diabetes and pre-diabetes exercise regularly to keep their blood glucose levels in control. Exercise for sugar patient helps them in lowering their blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity in the following ways:

  • Use of an excess of body glucose: Exercises immediately helps in lowering the high blood sugar levels. When you exercise, your body takes up extra glucose from your body. This glucose reaches the working muscles and organs of your body through the bloodstream for energy. Therefore, when people with elevated blood glucose exercise or go on a walk after meals, their blood glucose levels go down.
  • Reduce visceral fat: Abdominal fat or visceral fat is one of the main contributing factors for the development of diabetes and pre-diabetes. Visceral fat cells store more energy and produce some chemicals and hormones that make your body insulin resistant. Thus, people who have belly fat are often at risk of developing diabetes. Resistance training is the best solution for them to maintain blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Maintain your body’s healthy weight: It is the fact that losing around 5-10 percent of your body helps in lowering your A1C levels. Exercise helps you to lose excess body fat and maintains your healthy body weight. Consequently, it improves your blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Therefore, people with diabetes and pre-diabetes should exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body weight.

Prevent Diabetes Related Health Issues With Exercises


Exercise aids in improving overall wellness and gives you a better health for life. People with diabetes need to exercise not only to maintain their blood sugar levels. It also avoids its related complications.

In addition to giving the benefits of controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining insulin levels in your body, exercise prevents you in many more ways. It prevents diabetes-related complications. It also helps in slowing down, stopping, or reversing the long-term health problems due to diabetes type-2. Here are some ways in which exercise combats with diabetes-related complications:

  • Restore nerve function: Nerve damage is one side effect of high blood sugar levels and few diabetes medications. Exercise helps in restoring nerve function and reduces nerve pain. Exercise promotes better blood circulation in your nerves that reduces discomfort and pain and improves nerve health.
  • Improves cholesterol levels: Exercise helps in maintaining your healthy body weight. It eventually helps in lowering your cholesterol levels. When you are overweight, the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) increases in your blood. It, therefore, leads to a higher risk of developing heart diseases. People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing heart problems. Therefore, exercise is essential to improve cholesterol levels.
  • Reduce inflammation: A 20-minute session of walking or other low-impact exercise reduces inflammation in your body. Exercise improves cellular response and insulin sensitivity in your body that helps in reducing inflammation. Simple stretching exercises are also helpful in lowering inflammation.
  • Improves joint health: Exercise treats joints health problems and limitations of mobility because of diabetes. Joints issues in diabetes patients can be due to nerve damage, excess body weight, or arterial disease. However, exercise is capable of treating all the problems and improves your overall joint health. Talk to a fitness trainer to start with the exercise for the diabetic patient for improving joint health.
  • Improves vascular health: During exercise, your muscles release a host of compounds. They are beneficial for vascular and circulatory health. It means during exercise large amount of oxygen and nutrients circulate in your body. Thus, it reduces the risk of diabetes-related neuropathy, heart problems, and loss of vision.

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Tips to Start With the Exercise For Type 2 Diabetes


Starting with correct exercise or workout programs that suit your body, you will get its optimum benefits on your health and body. Consult with a good fitness trainer to get the best workout plan and start with a low-intensity workout. Along with these, you should keep your body moving. Dance, play outdoor games, do household chores, or take your dog out to stay physically active. These are the best exercise for type 2 diabetes patients at home.

It is daunting for people to start regular exercise when they are not used to it. Here are some tips for them to start exercising regularly:

  • Look for the best workout program: Plenty of workout programs are available online for people with diabetes type-2. However, not all workout plans are for everyone. It is better to talk to your primary care physician to start a workout program. It enables the patients to choose the best workout program that suits best to their existing health conditions.
  • Take baby steps: Instead of starting with a high-intensity workout, begin with a low-intensity exercise. This gradual approach will reduce the risk of after-workout pain and injury. Your physician will also recommend the newbies to start with the low-impact workout, especially if you are suffering from nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy.
  • Carefully plan your exercise routine: A well-planned exercise routine can give you the maximum benefit when combining with a healthy diet plan. Planning exercise routine with the intake of food prevents hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. You may need to monitor your blood glucose levels before, after, and during your workout routine.
  • Improve your physical activity: You may start with a dedicated workout routine. Although, it is better if you improve your everyday physical activity. You can maintain your physical mobility and functional strength while doing some household work or through physical recreation. You can walk while doing errands, cleaning the house, taking the trash out, gardening, take your dog out for a walk, and more.
  • Target on large muscle group: Focus on the exercises that target the large muscle group. Multi-joint exercises like squats, chest presses, and lunges benefit blood sugar management. However, you should perform these workouts under supervision to avoid mistakes and injuries. Listen to your body while you start with any exercise. It will help you to get the maximum health benefits without workout injuries.

exercise for type 2 diabetes

Top 10 Exercises for Type 2 Diabetes


Physical inactivity is responsible for different health issues like diabetes. Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder that can lead to many related complications and keep you unfit for life. To live a healthy life with diabetes, improve your physical activity. Exercise is the best way to stay physically active and manage your diabetes. Take help from your doctor to start with the most suitable workout program to meet your health goals.

People with diabetes type-2 should make a habit of exercising regularly. It helps them to manage their diabetes more effectively. Along with this, it keeps them fit in each day. The top ten exercises that are highly beneficial for people with diabetes type 2 are:

1. Brisk Walking

Walking is the simplest form of exercise. You don’t need to have expensive workout equipment or a gym membership to get moving. You can start walking today. Spend at least 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week. It is a great way to improve your physical activity. When you go for a walk after meals, your body takes up extra glucose from your body and utilizes it for energy. exercise for diabetes

2. Yoga

It is a traditional form of exercise. It aims at improving physical, mental, and spiritual health. Yoga promotes fluid movements in the body that improves flexibility, balance, and strength. There are yoga poses that help in lowering blood sugar levels and promote heart health. Hence, it reduces the chances of diabetes-related heart problems and other complications. You can watch diabetic exercise videos to know the best yoga poses for diabetes.  type 2 diabetes physical exercise

3. Swimming

Swimming is another best exercise for diabetes patients. It is a low- moderate impact exercise that involves most of your body muscles. Swimming smoothly relaxes your muscles without putting pressure on your joints. People with diabetes should go swimming. It helps them burn calories, lower stress levels, improve cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of diabetes. exercise for diabetic patient

4. Cycling

Cycling is a form of low-impact aerobic exercise. It is suitable for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. It helps in burning calories, improving heart health, and make your lungs function better. You can go cycling outside and enjoy yourself. There are stationary bikes as well that help you to pedal at the comfort of your home. exercise for sugar patient

5. Dancing

Dancing is a fun and exciting way to improve physical activity. If you are looking for the best diabetes exercise at home, then dance is the best. It keeps your body moving and makes your mind at work. Dancing releases you from mental stress, promotes flexibility, and regulates blood sugar levels in your body. If you are not a good dancer, you can learn dance online or dance in your way. There are various dance forms like salsa, classical, jazz, hip-hop, etc. So, you can follow any form and dance for few minutes daily.exercise for diabetes

6. Strength training exercise

This form of exercise is also known as resistance training. Muscles play a vital role in the regulation of blood sugar levels. It helps in the storage and utilization of blood glucose in the body. Strength training also makes your body insulin-sensitive and lowers blood glucose levels. Hence, many physicians or fitness experts recommend strength training in the workout plan for people with diabetes. type 2 diabetes physical exercise

7. Tai Chi

It is an ancient Chinese art form. It involves slow and controlled movements along with controlled breathing and visualization. It helps in strength building, improving flexibility, mobility, and balance. Tai Chi is a low-impact gentle exercise that reduces stress levels and control blood glucose levels. It also prevents nerve damage in your feet which is a common side effect of some medications for diabetes. exercise for diabetes at home


8. Weightlifting

Weightlifting involves all your muscles. Your muscles store glycogen. During weightlifting, muscles of your body use glycogen as fuel. Once this glycogen runs out, the body starts mobilizing extra glycogen from the liver and blood. It directly starts decreasing your blood sugar levels. Weightlifting also reduces your body weight. Thus, it lowers your A1C levels. exercises for diabetic patients at home


It is a fitness program designed for improving core strength, balance, and coordination. It also boosts blood circulation in your body. For beginners, a pilates session of 20 minutes at least three times a week is the best way to keep your blood sugar in control. It includes a low-intensity workout that is helpful in diabetes management and improving strength resistance.

10. Callisthenics

It is performed rhythmically and with minimum equipment. Callisthenics is similar to gymnastics to some extent. In Calisthenics, you use your body weight to strengthen your muscles. Callisthenics exercises include pushups, crunches, plank, squats, and lunges. It helps in improving postures and reducing the fat mass of the body. When you maintain your body weight, your blood sugar levels can easily be in control.  diabetes exercise at home

Also Read: Is pineapple good for diabetics?


What is the best time to do exercise to control diabetes?

The best time to do exercise is any time of the day. It is good to exercise at your convenient time rather than skipping it. However, make sure you have at least few carbs before starting with exercise for type 2 diabetes patients. It will prevent you from the risk of a sudden drop in blood sugar levels during the workout. Discuss with your fitness trainer the number of carbs you need to take before a workout according to your blood sugar levels.

Why low-intensity workout is suitable for people with diabetes?

High-intensity workouts or exercising for more time in a day trigger the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline stimulates the release of glucose from the liver and, cortisol makes your body insulin resistant. The strenuous activities release more such hormones that increase your blood sugar levels. It is the reason why a low-intensity workout is suitable for people with diabetes. Additionally, it prevents them from the risk of nerve damage due to diabetes.

Is it necessary to exercise? Why can’t I manage diabetes alone with medications?

Well, diabetes is a lifestyle disorder. It develops when your body does not produce insulin or use it to control blood glucose levels. Medications may benefit you to manage blood sugar levels but, you will remain to feel unhealthy. Exercise keeps you fit and physically active. It naturally helps in controlling your blood sugar levels and prevents related complications.

How can you know that exercise is affecting your body?

Not all types of exercises are for diabetes patients. Therefore, take help from an expert fitness trainer or a doctor to get the best workout plan or sugar control exercise. You should work out accordingly and monitor your blood glucose before, during, and after the workout. It will help you to know how your body is responding to the exercise or workout plan. You can maintain a diary to record your blood sugar levels then show it to your fitness trainer or doctor in case of fluctuations.

How does exercise help patients with diabetes type-2?

When you exercise, your heart beats at a faster rate and, you breathe a bit harder. It enables your muscles to work more to give you energy. The body muscles use blood glucose to get more fuel for the body. Therefore, your blood glucose levels go down. In addition, exercise helps diabetes type-2 patients to improve cardiovascular health. Thus, it reduces heart-related complications due to diabetes.


  1. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/11/2065
  2. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/how-exercise-helps-prevent-and-manage-type-2-diabetes/
  3. https://diabetesaction.org/questions-exercise

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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