Exercise prescription and the patient with type 2 diabetes: a clinical approach to optimizing patient outcomes

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2010 Apr;22(4):217-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2010.00490.x.


Purpose: To review the current recommendations for physical activity in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and propose methods to optimize compliance, reduce the pharmaceutical burden, and improve the general health and well-being of patients with T2DM.

Data sources: PubMed, SportDiscus, Ovid MEDLINE, Psychinfo, Web of Science, LexisNexis, and EBM reviews.

Conclusions: T2DM is a condition in which physical activity has been documented to improve patient outcomes, yet research has noted that healthcare professionals inadequately address this issue, resulting in physical activity being an underutilized therapy.

Implications for practice: An exercise prescription consists of mode (type), frequency, intensity, duration, and progression. Determining the appropriate mode depends upon patient preference and safety issues regarding the state of T2DM or other conditions. Frequency, intensity, and duration are specific to the type of activity and should be tailored to the patient's abilities to safely perform the activity. Finally, the health professional addresses periodic progression in order to maintain the exercise stimulus needed to promote continued health improvements and prevent "plateauing." In this article, on the basis of the current scientific research, we propose recommendations that enable healthcare professionals to advocate for their patients with T2DM by offering safe and effective treatment options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Disease Progression
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / nursing
  • Exercise Therapy / psychology
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mind-Body Therapies
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Prescriptions* / nursing
  • Resistance Training
  • Tai Ji
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Yoga