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Beating Diabetes: Type II Diabetes and Exercise

This month, guest blogger Michelle Matte, CSCS has been discussing diabetes in recognition of American Diabetes Month.  We started with a general overview to increase awareness about diabetes.  We then focused on Managing Type I Diabetes through Exercise.  Today, we extending that discussion to Type II diabetes. 

The Sad Truth

Type II Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a lifestyle disease. In the not-too-distant past, it was referred to as “Adult Onset Diabetes,” and rarely manifested in children and young adults. But today, Type II DM is escalating at an alarming pace in children, teens and adults of all ages. Research suggests that 35 percent of adults over age 20 are pre-diabetic, and that number rises to 50 percent of adults over age 65. When left untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and peripheral neuropathy leading to amputation of limbs.

diabetes exercise man

Exercise and Type II DM

Exercise is known to increase insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetics and to reverse the disease in confirmed diabetics. Yet a study published in “Diabetes Care” found that among adults with Type II DM, 31 percent engaged in no regular physical activity, and another 38 percent engaged in less than recommended levels of exercise. The study reported that most of the subjects were overweight, and the majority did not eat a healthy diet that included fresh fruits and vegetables.

Low Activity is Not Enough

Exercise intensity has a great deal to do with the body’s response to exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), vigorous physical activity performed three to five times per week on a consistent basis will yield optimal results with regard to improving insulin sensitivity. Sporadic low intensity exercise coupled with a diet high in carbohydrates and processed foods will do little to reverse Type II DM.

diabetes exercise running

ExRx for Type II DM

To prevent or reverse Type II DM, the ACSM recommends resistance training on two to three non-consecutive days per week, performing exercises for all your major muscle groups. Do eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise, at a weight that fatigues your muscles within that range. Perform one to three sets of each exercise. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise like running or brisk walking on an incline performed for 30 minutes or longer is also recommended. Do aerobic exercise on at least five days per week. Exercise bouts can be broken up into 10 or 15 minute segments, provided they are done at an intensity that your perceive to be challenging.


To gain a deeper understanding about glucose metabolism and diabetes, consider enrolling in W.I.T.S. online courses.  Nutritional Concepts, Certified Personal Trainer Certification, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Exercise Program Design for Special Populations all offer insight into how the body uses sugar for energy.

– See more at:


Diabetes Care: Diet and Exercise Among Adults with Type II Diabetes.


American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: Exercise and type 2 diabetes.


Dr. Mark Hyman: Five Steps to Reverse Type II Diabetes and Insulin Resistance.


Journal of Applied Physiology: Effects of Acute Exercise and Exercise Training on Insulin Resistance.


Healthline: Type 2 Diabetes Statistics and Facts.


American College of Sports Medicine: Exercise Can Help Tame Type 2 Diabetes, Say New Guidelines.


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