What are the benefits of physical activity in type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM)?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Most patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus can benefit from increased activity. Aerobic exercise improves insulin sensitivity and may improve glycemia markedly in some patients.

Structured exercise training of more than 150 minutes per week is associated with greater HbA1c reduction; however, physical activity helps lower HbA1c only when combined with dietary modifications. [316]

The patient should choose an activity that she or he is likely to continue. Walking is accessible to most patients in terms of time and financial expenditure.

A previously sedentary patient should start activities slowly. Older patients, patients with long-standing disease, patients with multiple risk factors, and patients with previous evidence of atherosclerotic disease should have a cardiovascular evaluation, probably including an imaging study, prior to beginning a significant exercise regimen.

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