Exercising helps reduce blood glucose levels

Practicing a moderate to vigorous physical activity regularly is recommended for people living with type-2 diabetes as it has been shown to help reduce your blood glucose levels. There are two main categories of physical activity. Aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic exercises are endurance based that is to say they increase your heart rate and breathing over a sustained period of time. These include walking, jogging, running or swimming. Aerobic exercise could reduce your HbA1c by around 7 mmol/mol which corresponds to 0.7% reduction.

Regular physical exercise can reduce your HbA1c

Anaerobic exercises are short and intense burst of physical activity such as weight lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). They could help reduce reduce your HbA1c by around 5 mmol/mol which corresponds to 0.5% reduction. They are considered optimal for fat loss as they use higher percentage of muscle glycogen for energy and last shorter than aerobic exercises. This is because they are usually too intense for your body to sustain over a long period of time.

Reducing your sedentary time

Although practicing regular physical exercise is shown to help with reducing blood sugar levels, it is not sufficient on its own. Indeed, there are two other factors that contribute to improve your blood glucose levels: activity level and sedentary time. A study shows that the more time you spend being inactive all day, the greater the level of insulin in the blood stream and insulin resistance. More so, the inactive time is associated with increased waist line and reduced HDL (the good cholesterol) which we know can lead to abnormal glucose metabolism (Healy et al, 2008).

Sedentary time is linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes

On average, for every two hours spent sitting and doing nothing can contribute to the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 20%. This study provides the evidence that it is crucial to avoid prolonged periods of sedentary time, primarily sitting. The key message here for people living with type-2 diabetes is to ensure that you break up your sedentary time throughout the day in complement to practicing physical exercise regularly.

With the work from home and the modern life that we live in, sedentary time has become inevitable and therefore it is important to set yourself some reminders on your phone or diaries just to get your body moving. Just standing for a a few minutes means that you are mobilising your muscles and using more energy than when you are seated. There are multiple ways you can reduce your sedentary time. When incorporated to your daily routines, it becomes much easier. You could try walking to your office or walking to your tube station or bus stop to travel by public transport instead of driving. Try take some time away from you desk whenever you can to do some chores in the house when you work from home. Another way is to do some stretches to keep your body moving or simply go for short walks around your house.

Stretching is a great way to break up sedentary time


  • Practicing physical exercise regular is an important factor in reducing blood glucose levels and insulin resistance but is not sufficient on its own.
  • Prolonged uninterrupted periods of sedentary time are linked with increased waist line and reduced HDL levels which can lead to abnormal glucose metabolism
  • Too much inactive time like sitting at your desk or watching TV on the sofa contribute a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 20% and weight gain
  • It is crucial to ensure that you break up your sedentary time in complement to practicing a regular physical activity.


Healy, GN., Dunstan, DW et al., ‘Breaks in sedentary time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk’, Diabetes Care, 31, (2008). 

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