New Exercise Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) have issued a joint position statement establishing new exercise guidelines for people with Type 2 diabetes. These replace the ACSM guidelines issued in the 2000 position stand “Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes.”


The new recommendations were developed by a panel of nine experts based on evidence from recent high-quality studies establishing that regular physical activity can prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes and can positively impact factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, heart health, and quality of life. Most of these benefits, the authors note, are the result of both resistance and aerobic exercise and are achieved through both short- and long-term improvements in insulin action.

The panel recommends that people who already have Type 2 diabetes perform at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise spread out over at least three days of the week, with no more than two consecutive days between exercising. The panel states that for most people with Type 2 diabetes, brisk walking is considered a moderate-intensity exercise, and that the use of a pedometer and goal-setting (such as setting a target number of steps per day) are valuable tools for increasing physical activity. The experts also recommend that resistance exercise such as weight training be done at least twice a week — ideally three times — on days that are not consecutive. The panel suggests that people who are just starting weight training be supervised by a qualified trainer to ensure the most benefit and to minimize the risk of injury.

According to Sheri R. Colberg, PHD, an expert in exercise science and internal medicine and the writing chair of the recommendations, “Many physicians appear unwilling or cautious about prescribing exercise to individuals with Type 2 diabetes for a variety of reason, such as excessive body weight or the presence of health-related complications. However, the majority of people with Type 2 diabetes can exercise safely, as long as certain precautions are taken. The presence of diabetes complications should not be used as an excuse to avoid participation in physical activity.”

To learn more about the new recommendations, read the article “New Guidelines for Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes” or see the position statement’s abstract in Diabetes Care. And for more about exercising with diabetes, click here.

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  • Pierrette Wingfield

    I started Zumba Dance Workout and not only lost 10lds in two weeks, but lowered my blood sugar….well lets just say I have to have a goody now-and-then to get the sugar back up. Need to know what to eat before you work out to keep the sugar right!

  • linda

    I exercise daily using both weights and doing aerobic. The recommendations say ” with no more than two consecutive days between exercising”

    Why the restriction?

  • Diane Fennell

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for your question! I think it’s great that you’re so active, and I believe that the experts who wrote the recommendations would agree: What they’re suggesting is that people exercise at least every four days, if not more frequently. (For instance, if you’ve exercised on a Monday, your next set of exercise should come no later than Thursday.)

    Thank you for your interest in Diabetes Self-Management!

    Diane Fennell
    Web Editor

  • sunburst

    My primary doctor always discusses my exercise/activity patterns in addition to my diet. I am a 59 year old type 2 and have kept my A1c under 6 for over 3 years except for 1 quarter with Glipizide, exercise and diet control. My main forms of exercise are walking, golfing and push-ups. I just haven’t been able to get into a regular resistance routine, but articles like these keep reminding me to get more proactive in this regard.

  • Lenore Walsh

    Could you give me your opinion on using a rebounder for exercise for someone that has foot problems and is overweight. Also, a suggestion as to the best one to purchase.

  • chrystal

    I am a insulin dependent T2. Let get out of the clinical and get in the actual every activity of a T2.

    I am trying to exercise but it is hard. In my mind I am still as fast as a gazelle in reality I am out of shape. For the last month, I didn’t loose or gain any weight. I want to know is this from the insulin since it keeps weight on. I want to know what could I be doing to counter at the insulin if that is the case. Now I am developing exercise induced asthma. now I am scared to exercise.

    It is hard to find a certfied trainer that has experience with diabetics and how can work on the trouble spots. I live in LA where everybody is a personal trainer!!! More importantly it is hard to find a trainer that knows what to do when I have low blood sugar.

    Telling me follow a generic exercise guidleline is fine but lets address some serious issues that people gloss over like finding personal trainer that are “trained” in helping diabetics.