Exercise Intervention for Patients with Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body either fails to produce or properly use insulin. Almost 26 million people—children and adults—are living with diabetes, and almost 79 million people have pre-diabetes. There are three types of diabetes: Type 1 (develops at a young age), Type 2 (develops at any age, can be prevented and reversed), and gestational (develops during pregnancy). Although there is no known cause, obesity and living a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Exercise intervention can help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. It also can help to reduce the elevated risk of heart disease and stroke associated with diabetes. Exercise intervention for people with diabetes may include a balanced mix of activities, such as aerobic exercise (moderate to vigorous intensity), resistance training (often with resistance bands), and stretching. Following an evaluation of health status and goals, a physical therapist will be able to prescribe—and supervise—a specific, custom exercise program to address the individual’s needs. Most exercise interventions for patients with diabetes also will include a home exercise program to complete between physical therapy sessions. Before beginning any exercise intervention, one should always receive clearance from a medical professional.