Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes: How can physical activity help?

Type 2 diabetes is often linked to being overweight or inactive, and can be largely managed and even prevented through physical activity.

Physical activity has been proven to not only help manage Type 2 Diabetes, but improve the overall health and quality of life for those living with it.

You should aim for the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This will not only help maintain your overall health, but can improve some symptoms you may face.

Living with diabetes: How can physical activity help?

This section is designed for those who are living with or supporting someone living with Type 2 diabetes, as well as those who are wanting to learn how to reduce their risks of developing diabetes. It focuses on the ways to manage diabetes in your everyday life, and most effective incorporate physical activity into your day safely.

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Helps improve your HBA1c

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Reduced stress and anxiety and boosted mood

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Increased alertness and energy levels

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Reduces risk of diabetic complications

Physical activity can not only help with improving your mood and stress levels, it can also help boost your energy levels which can encourage you to do more and more each time. It is good as both a preventative and management method for those living with the condition.

Getting started: Exercising with diabetes

Whether you are looking to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes or you have already been diagnosed and are looking for ways to help manage your condition, physical activity is extremely important.

If you’re looking to reduce your risk of diabetes or manage your current condition, you should aim to take part in the recommended amount of 150 minutes of physical activity per week, as outlined in the UK Chief Medical Officer’s Physical Activity guidelines.

Try and aim for a combination of cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and balance exercises.

This could include walking, cycling or swimming. For a full list of suitable exercises, check out our Active at Home section.

Suitable exercise ideas for those living with Type 2 Diabetes

  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Team sports (Football, rugby, volleyball, netball, hockey)
  • Walking
  • Dancing

Diabetes should not prevent you from exercising, however if you’re unsure or unconfident, you should seek the advice of your GP or specialist LTC Healthcare Professional who will be able to refer you to a suitable exercise regime.


For Healthcare Professionals

Below is some key information about the science behind type 2 diabetes, as well as some useful resources which you can download or signpost patients to. 

For further information about having conversations with people living with Type 2 diabetes and physical activity please visit Moving Medicine and the E Learning Page for directive conversation support.

young girl with type 2 diabetes
Diabetes information

How can physical activity help reduce chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Type 2 Diabetes can often be linked to being overweight or inactive. Regular physical activity will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing diabetes
  • Helps body use insulin better
  • Improves your HBA1c (average blood glucose levels
  • Controls blood pressure which reduces risk of diabetes complications
  • Helps improve cholesterol which will also reduce risk of other problems

Resource bank for diabetes

There are several local charities and funds that can help if you need support. In contacting these charities, you’ll be able to chat to someone who works closely with people living with diabetes. They will also have a good idea of the best steps to take in starting your active journey.

Local charities and organisations

Downloadable resources


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