Getting Active and Diabetes

The Key Points:

Suggestions on how to get active:

Please talk to your GP before starting a new exercise regime.

  • Just moving a little every 30 to 60 minutes can have profound effects on your physical health and reduce your risk to diabetes. Instead of being sat at your desk all day, after each meeting get up and do a few minutes’ walk or stretch.
  • You don’t have to go for a 20-minute jog to be physically active, when starting out just moving your body more such as going for a 10-minute walk in the morning and afternoon is a good starting point.
  • Pick an activity that you enjoy and see if a friend or family member wants to join you. Getting active with a friend or family member can help to get you to get motivated and stay motivated.
  • When first starting out, start off slowly and build the duration and intensity of physical activity up over time. Maintaining an intensity that you can still have a conversation at will help guide you. This helps to adapt your body over time and reduce the amount of muscle soreness the next day.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity 5 times a week, ensure not to have more than 2 days of rest between exercise sessions. Also include 2 to 3 resistance training sessions a week also known as strength training. Include exercises that target large muscle groups such as squats, lunges and planks.

Getting Active and Diabetes: The Article

  • In type 1 diabetes, which accounts for 5-10% of diabetic cases, this disease develops as a result of insulin not being secreted from the pancreas.
  • In type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes (90-95% of cases) and the most preventable condition of diabetes. In this condition the muscle cells are unable to respond to insulin (insulin resistance) and eventually inadequate insulin is secreted1.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a significant cause of premature death and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by two-fold.
  • An unhealthy diet and being physically inactive accounts for 80% of the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Moving your muscles during physical activity increases the uptake of glucose circulating in the blood which reduces the amount of glucose in the blood. This is an important mechanism for reducing your risk to type 2 diabetes, along with increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing bad cholesterol.
  • Just after 1 week of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity has been shown to improve risk factors of diabetes2.


    1. Colberg, S.R., Sigal, R.J., Fernhall, B., Regensteiner, J.G., Blissmer, B.J., Rubin, R.R., Chasan-Taber, L., Albright, A.L., and Braun, B. (2010). “Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement.” Diabetes Care. 33(12): e147-e167.
    2. Winnick, J.J., Sherman, W.M., Habash, D.L., Stout, M.B., Failla, M.L., Belury, M.A., and Schuster, D.P. (2008). “Short-Term Aerobic Exercise Training in Obese Humans with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Improves Whole-Body Insulin Sensitivity through Gains in Peripheral, not Hepatic Insulin Sensitivity.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 93(3):771-778.