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Type 2 diabetes is a condition that is rapidly increasing in prevalence with an average of 165 new diagnoses every day in Australia. However, the good news is that lifestyle interventions, such as regular physical activity, can play a significant role in both preventing and managing this condition. In this blog, we will delve into the importance of exercise and how the expertise of exercise physiologists and physiotherapists can be instrumental in the prevention, management, and treatment of type 2 diabetes.


When it comes to type 2 diabetes, lifestyle modifications are key in contributing to disease prevention. Regular exercise has been proven to enhance insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and help maintain a healthy weight, which are all crucial factors in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is especially important for individuals with a family history of the condition. Physiotherapists and exercise physiologists specialise in designing tailored exercise programs that cater to an individual’s specific needs; taking into account their current fitness level, exercise capacity, medical history, lifestyle and any challenges they may face when it comes to exercise.


People diagnosed with pre-diabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but do not yet meet the criteria for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Pre-diabetes stage is a critical point where lifestyle changes can make a significant impact! A health professional can play a pivotal role in assessing specific risk factors of an individual, prescribing personalised exercise plans, and monitoring progress towards preventing the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes.
What exercise modality should you choose?
Research indicates that a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise is most effective for managing blood glucose levels. However, the type of exercise you choose should be based on your specific goals, preferences, and accessibility, which can be discussed with your exercise professional. It’s crucial to understand the relative exercise intensity so that you can better manage low blood glucose levels during and after exercise, which is essential for ensuring exercise safety and efficacy.

Type 2 Diabetes

For those already living with type 2 diabetes, exercise becomes a crucial component of their management plan. With their musculoskeletal health expertise, physiotherapists can work alongside exercise physiologists to design safe and effective exercise routines. This collaborative approach helps manage symptoms, improve mobility, and reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes.


Exercise is increasingly being recognised as a powerful adjunct to traditional medical treatments for type 2 diabetes. It is increasingly viewed as a front-line treatment and valued non-pharmacological treatment in the early stages of the condition. Medication is often not sufficient to manage the condition, and the inclusion of structured exercise programs can lead to improved blood sugar control and overall health.

Exercise physiologists and physiotherapists work collaboratively with healthcare teams to ensure a comprehensive approach to diabetes management.

How your exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can help:

  • Personalised exercise plans: your allied health professional can help assess your exercise capacity, health status, and goals to create exercise plans that are both enjoyable and effective.
  • Monitoring and progress evaluation: regular check-ins with your allied health professional will allow for adjustments to your exercise program based on your progress and any changes in your health status.
  • Education and empowerment: understanding the impact of exercise on diabetes is crucial. Your allied health professional can provide relevant education on the benefits of physical activity and empower individuals to take control of their health.
  • Targeted physiotherapy interventions: physiotherapists use their expertise to address specific musculoskeletal issues related to diabetes, ensuring optimal mobility and function. In the context of type 2 diabetes, physiotherapy can address issues such as neuropathy, muscle weakness, and joint stiffness that are commonly associated with the condition. Through targeted exercises and manual therapy, physiotherapists can improve the overall quality of life for individuals with diabetes.

With the guidance of allied health professionals, individuals can not only contribute to the prevention of type 2 diabetes but also effectively manage and treat the condition, leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life. Contact us if you would like to get in touch with one of our team members today.

Hordern, M. D., Dunstan, D. W., Prins, J. B., Baker, M. K., Singh, M. A., & Coombes, J. S. (2012). Exercise prescription for patients with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: A position statement from Exercise and sport science australia. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15(1), 25–31. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2011.04.005

Type 2 diabetes. (2023). Retrieved from