Does Working Out Prevent Diabetes?

A new study finds that working out for just 30 minutes a day can help prevent diabetes.


Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body cannot use and/or regulate the blood glucose levels correctly. While maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is an essential part of managing this disease, regular physical activity can also help prevent or delay its onset. In fact, engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week may reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes by up to 58%.

When it comes to diabetes prevention, any amount and type of physical activity can be beneficial. However, there are certain activities that are more effective in controlling blood sugar levels than others. For instance, resistance training has been shown to be especially helpful in managing this condition due to its ability to increase lean muscle mass and improve insulin sensitivity. Additionally, participating in regular moderate-intensity exercise such as walking or biking has been associated with significant reductions in diabetes risk factors such as waist circumference and body fat percentage.

Ultimately, the best way to reduce your risk for developing diabetes is by making lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. Not only will these changes help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, but they can also reduce other associated risks like obesity and heart disease. By making active living a part of your everyday life, you can take a proactive approach towards protecting your health now and into the future!

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition which is caused by the disruption of the body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar levels. It can have serious consequences, including damage to the kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. This article will focus on the link between working out and diabetes, and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this condition.

Types of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any, or enough, insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily doses of insulin for survival.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to either produce enough insulin or properly use the insulin it does produce. Type 2 diabetes accounts for most of the newly diagnosed cases of diabetes and often occurs in adults over the age of 45. With this form of diabetes, blood glucose levels can usually be managed through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise along with weight loss and medications.

Other less common forms of diabetes include gestational diabetes, caused by changes in hormone levels during pregnancy; prediabetes, when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be considered full-blown type 2; monogenic forms of diabetes such as MODY (mature onset), which is passed down through families; crytoporphyria induced; drug induced; and other rarer genetic forms of the disease.

Benefits of Exercise for Diabetes Prevention

Exercise is one of the most effective tools for preventing and managing diabetes. Keeping your weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels in check can all help to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Regular exercise can also help you maintain proper insulin sensitivity to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. In this article, we will explore the benefits of exercise for diabetes prevention.

Improved Blood Sugar Levels

Regular physical activity helps improve blood sugar levels in people at risk for, and with, diabetes. Exercise lowers blood sugar in three ways: First, as you exercise, the body’s cells become more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that moves glucose from the bloodstream into the cells in your muscles and other tissues. This means that your body needs less insulin for glucose to be taken up into the cells. Second, when you are physically active your body burns stored glucose for energy which helps lower high blood sugar levels. Finally, because physical activity improves circulation of both oxygen and nutrients in the muscles and other tissues it can reduce tissue damage associated with high blood sugar levels. All of these mechanisms lead to better control of diabetes or prevention of it occurring if you are prediabetic or at risk due to being overweight or with a family history of the condition.

Research shows that regular physical activity not only prevents diabetes but can help those who already have it better manage their condition by improving overall health and reducing complications and negative side effects such as nerve damage, retinopathy (eye disease), susceptibility to infections like flu or pneumonia as well as cardiovascular problems like stroke and coronary artery disease which are common in people with diabetes. Therefore if you are at risk for diabetes due to being overweight or family history engaging regularly in a moderate level exercise program can improve your overall health as well as reduce your chances of developing this chronic health condition.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Exercising regularly has numerous benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity, increased physical fitness and decreased blood pressure. Regular exercise can help to prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that helps carry glucose from the blood into cells, where it can be used for energy. For people with diabetes, their bodies are unable to process glucose in the same manner as someone without diabetes. Exercise can help your body become more sensitive to the effects of insulin, allowing cells to take up glucose more effectively from the bloodstream. Therefore, exercising regularly can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk for developing diabetes and those who are overweight or obese are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition. By regularly engaging in physical exercise, you can effectively decrease body fat and manage your weight. In particular, resistance training and aerobic activities have been shown to effectively reduce fat levels, improve glycemic control, enhance glucose metabolism and help with weight loss as well as diabetes prevention or management.

Resistance training alone can be used to target specific muscles for strengthening without necessarily leading to an increase in body mass or an increase in overall body fat percentage. Additionally, combining resistance exercises with regular cardio activities such as running or jogging can help you burn calories quicker without sacrificing muscle tone. Additionally, aerobic activities like swimming provide cardiovascular benefits that further reduce risk of diabetes by improving glycemic control. It is important to speak with your doctor about a plan that meets your individual needs while optimizing health and fitness.

Exercise Recommendations for Diabetes Prevention

Regular exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on diabetes prevention. Research has suggested that people who are physically active are more likely to have better blood sugar levels, as well as a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is recommended that people incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. In this section, the recommended exercise guidelines for preventing diabetes will be discussed.

Strength Training

Strength training or resistance exercises offer multiple benefits in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. These exercises work on the major muscle groups, such as the arms, chest, shoulders, back and legs. Strengthening these muscles through regular exercise can improve glucose uptake from the blood stream by increasing muscles’ sensitivity to insulin. This increases your body’s ability to use available glucose for energy without storing it as fat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends incorporating strength training into one’s routine at least twice a week in addition to cardiorespiratory exercise. Strength training is especially beneficial for those with diabetes because it both improves strength and strengthens control over blood sugar levels through increased muscle mass and a heightened sensitivity to insulin.

When first beginning a strength training program for diabetes prevention, it is important to start with light weights that still make it possible to complete 8–10 repetitions; if you are able to do more than 10 repetitions easily, progression is recommended by adding more resistance or weight incrementally over time. Short rest periods of 30 seconds between sets are typically recommended in order to keep your heart rate up and maximize calorie burn as an additional benefit of exercising.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise involves regular, moderate-to-intense aerobic physical activity that increases one’s heart rate and manages blood sugar level. Cardiovascular activities require energy to be produced, which in turn may help regulate blood sugar level and prevent type 2 diabetes. Examples of cardiovascular activities include walking, running, cycling and swimming. Generally, it is recommended to do 150 minutes per week (30 minutes each day) of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise at minimum. For those who are looking to increase their intensity levels during physical activity, they should aim to participate in vigorous intensity cardiovascular exercises for 75 minutes per week (15 minutes each day). Additionally, adding exciting variety to routines such as yoga or other related low-impact exercises can also benefit overall health.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an effective form of exercise for individuals with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes. HIIT involves alternating periods of short, all-out intense bursts of effort and active rest in a series of workouts that target different muscle groups. This type of exercise increases the body’s metabolism, thereby helping to improve glucose control levels and reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes.

Examples of exercises typically involved in HIIT include sprinting, jump rope, burpees, mountain climbers, and box jumps. Research has shown that HIIT can reduce total body fat percentage by as much as 3-15%, while reducing waist circumference between 7-11%. Additionally, it has been found to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce hemoglobin A1c values (a marker used to measure long term glucose control).

When doing HIIT for diabetes prevention, it is advised to start with low intensity for 10-15 minutes before gradually increasing the intensity over time. It is important to allow for adequate recovery during each session so as not to push yourself too hard too quickly; this will help your body become accustomed to new forms of exercise. Finally, always speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise regimen!

Flexibility Training

Flexibility training is an important component of any overall exercise program, and it is especially important for people who are trying to prevent diabetes. Stretching exercises can help improve range of motion and reduce joint pain. Increased flexibility can improve posture, reduce fatigue, and help prevent injury.

To get the most out of a flexibility routine, be sure to focus on the major muscle groups — legs, core and arms — on both sides of your body. Incorporate dynamic stretching into your warm-up before exercising and some static stretches after exercising to complete each session. Consider sessions that include yoga or other low-impact activities that emphasize flexibility hold times as part of your regular weekly routine if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes risk factors. Keep in mind that if you have any existing medical conditions, it’s best to check with your doctor prior to engaging in any vigorous physical activity . Additionally, it is recommended that all individuals start slow with flexibility training and gradually increase intensity over time for maximum benefit.


The research suggests that regular physical activity does play a role in preventing diabetes. However, the type, intensity, and amount of exercise needed for prevention vary from person to person and must be further determined by your health care provider. In addition to regular physical activity, having a healthy and balanced diet is also extremely important in reducing your risk of diabetes.

It’s important to remember that lifestyle changes — including an increased amount of exercise, healthy eating habits, and maintaining a healthy body weight — should be incorporated into every plan for preventing diabetes. When framing such plans it is essential to specify expectations (i.e., the desired degree of physical activity) and tailor the plans accordingly in order to ensure that they are achievable by the individual. Additionally, effective implementation will require regular follow-up with healthcare professionals in order to ensure progress towards determined goals.

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