Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020:1228:91-105. doi: 10.1007/978-981-15-1792-1_6.


The epidemic of diabetes mellitus has already become a serious global health threat. In the past three decades, the number of people with diabetes mellitus has quadrupled globally, and diabetes mellitus is known as the ninth major cause of death in the world nowadays. The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is in coincidence with the augmentation of obesity in most developed countries as well as in developing countries. A sedentary lifestyle is well-known as one of the major reasons for the rising epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus besides the other reasons such as adopting energy-dense diets relative to the actual need for energy and population aging. Exercise as a regular physical activity at a medium to vigorous intensity is found to be an efficient influencer that would switch back most of the known type 2 diabetes mellitus factors toward healthier positions. Exercise is proven to have clinical benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity, reductions in glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) and increased peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) which are definitely preventive toward diabetes. Exercise training can favorably affect glycemic parameters, the lipid profile, blood pressure, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Exercise improves blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes, reduces cardiovascular risk factors, and regulates body weight by reducing body fat percentage and enhancing lean mass. In this chapter, the effect of regular exercise on the prevention of diabetes and short-term glucose and energy metabolism will be discussed. In addition, the effect of exercise on most common complications of type 2 diabetes including cardiovascular diseases, dyslipidemia, nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy will be reviewed.

Keywords: Exercise; Insulin resistance; Physical activity; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Exercise*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A