Physical exercise for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes

Diabetes Metab. 2010 Nov;36(5):346-51. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2010.06.001. Epub 2010 Aug 2.


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing worldwide, yet its primary prevention and treatment are still a challenge. The objectives of this review are to assess the effects of exercise on the prevention of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals and on glycaemic control in type 2 diabetic patients. Considering the available reports, there is unequivocal and strong evidence that physical exercise can prevent or delay progression to type 2 diabetes in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Also, lifestyle interventions, including diet and physical exercise, can result in a reduction of around 50% in diabetes incidence that persists even after the individual lifestyle counselling has stopped. In addition, short-term randomized studies have confirmed that physical training based on endurance and/or resistance exercises can also improve blood glucose control in type 2 diabetics with a mean glycated haemoglobin decrease of 0.6%. Thus, physical exercise should be part of any therapeutic strategy to slow the development of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals and to improve glucose control in type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / therapy
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Endurance
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Lipids