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Exercise and Diabetes

Aerobic exercise is a great way to help control type 2 diabetes. Yet, you may not be reaping all the positive benefits of an effective type 2 diabetes exercise plan using just aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is terrific though— it can improve heart health and lower your risk for heart attack or stroke. However, strengthening your muscles is another important part of staying healthy when you have type 2 diabetes.


When you exercise with weights or other forms of resistance, it can be especially helpful for controlling your blood sugar. Resistance training also helps human skeletal muscles to become more sensitive to the body’s natural insulin. As you begin to develop more skeletal muscle your blood sugar levels may become less elevated. More muscle tissue may lead to greater glucose uptake and increased insulin sensitivity!

Resistance Training for Diabetes

When you perform strength exercises that target large muscle groups, your body uses glucose from your bloodstream to energize them. This helps clear out excess sugar from your system. Developed muscles also store excess glucose more effectively, and that helps regulate blood sugar, even when you’re at rest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strength training also helps build stronger bones. Strength training promotes weight loss — an important goal for many with type 2 diabetes — because the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn.

Keep in mind that strength training is just one part of a well-rounded fitness program. In addition to strength training twice a week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults also get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, each week.

While both aerobics and strength training are helpful when you have diabetes, a long-term program of both produces the greatest health benefits for blood glucose management and weight loss.

Information provided by the AST Diabetes and Wellness/Fitness Program and