For people with or at risk of diabetes, regular physical activity helps improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, positively affects lipids and blood pressure, assists with weight maintenance, and reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). 1, 2 It also can improve psychological well-being, health-related quality of life, and depression in individuals with type 2 diabetes, among whom depression is more common than in the general population. 1 Muscle-strengthening activity can increase bone strength and muscular fitness and help maintain muscle mass during a program of weight loss. 1, 2
Physical activity (along with nutrition therapy) was a key component of the lifestyle interventions tested in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) for prediabetes 3, 4 and in the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study for type 2 diabetes. 5 These lifestyle interventions respectively achieved mean weight losses of 7 percent and 8 percent at 1 year and included 150 or 175 minutes per week of physical activity such as walking. 5 As detailed in Principle 4, the combination of increased physical activity and reduced caloric intake dramatically reduced development of diabetes in the DPP and improved fitness, quality of life, and mobility in Look AHEAD.