The Best Type of Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes Patients

It has been conventionally accepted that low to moderate exercise is best when dealing with sedentary individuals. This has been the recommendation of well known organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. Even though there is evidence that low intensity exercise is better than no exercise, there may be a more effective option: high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT consists of alternating periods of intense exercise with periods of lower-intensity effort for recovery. It means less time exercising with the same or greater health benefits than low-intensity endurance training.

High-intensity workouts can be done in the comfort of your home with little or no equipment in a 10-20 minute session. For more in-depth information on HIIT please refer to HIIT: NOT JUST FOR ATHLETES.

For decades HIIT has been used to train elite athletes but a growing number of scientific studies show that it is also effective and safe for those with type 2 diabetes.



A number of recent studies show that vigorous or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) leads to rapid improvements in glucose control and cardiovascular health in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

A 2003 randomized study involving 16 middle aged overweight men with type 2 diabetes participating in an eight week HIIT program showed a decrease of 44 percent of abdominal fat, a 24 percent increase in mid-thigh muscle and a 58 percent improvement in insulin sensitivity.

A 2014 study of nine type 2 diabetes patients confirmed findings of positive health benefits of HIIT for individuals with type 2 diabetes as reported in other recently published studies.

A 2015 meta analysis confirmed high-intensity training’s effectiveness at reducing disease risk factors, particularly for those at risk of or with type 2 diabetes.

Mounting evidence supports the health benefits of HIIT for individuals with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, and that it may be superior to low intensity exercise. For more information about HIIT please check out HIIT: NOT JUST FOR ATHLETES.

It is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare practitioner or a certified trainer before starting an exercise program. For individuals who are cleared for vigorous exercise participation, HIIT can be a valuable addition to an exercise program.