Living with Pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes - Exercise and Weight Management
Thursday, November 12, 2020

Regular exercise and weight management are proven to help control Type 2 Diabetes and help you live a healthier life.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercising can improve your physical and mental health in many ways. By increasing your physical activity, you can improve blood glucose control, and in those who have pre-diabetes being physically active may delay or prevent Type 2 Diabetes from developing.

In addition, exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure and cholesterol), improve well-being and stress levels, increase energy levels, and leads to higher self-confidence. It can help increase mobility, muscle strength, flexibility, circulation and reduce the risk of falls.

Regular activity also contributes to weight loss. In 2015, Healthy Ireland found that 61% of adults 16-65 years and 79% of adults >65 years were overweight or obese. Achieving a healthy weight and practicing weight management can improve your blood glucose control by helping your own bodies insulin to work better, reducing what is known as insulin resistance.

Weight loss can also contribute to a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol. For an individual with diabetes, a 10% reduction in body weight can lead to a 30% decrease in the likelihood of diabetes related death.

Maintaining a healthy weight can also help improve mobility by reducing stress on the joints.

Getting Started

A big part of weight management is changing your behavior. This can be difficult, and you should set yourself up with the right support to help you achieve your goals and get back on track if you lapse.

GPs and Pharmacists are key advocates for highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle and can refer clients to additional supports. Before beginning a new weight management regime, you should talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist about your weight loss goals and work with them to set healthy targets.

Plan to make weight monitoring a routine part of your consultations to help keep you on track.

It’s a good idea to keep a record of your activity, weight and blood glucose levels to help you see how these values are linked and to help keep you motivated by keeping track of your progress.


It is important that you choose the kind and amount of exercise that is right for you and that you will enjoy. Adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of physical activity a week, which should be spread out to around 30 minutes per day. Resistance training, like weight or dumbbells are recommended.

Children and young adults should be aiming for 60 minutes of moderate activity per day.

Exercise and hypos (low blood glucose level)

If you are well and your diabetes is well controlled, you should be able to participate in the same kind of physical activities as people without diabetes but remember that these activities can lower your blood glucose.

Although this may sound good, given that type 2 diabetes is characterised by high blood glucose, it is possible for your blood glucose to go too low (less than 4mmols) if you are taking certain kinds of Diabetes medicines. These low blood glucose levels are known as hypos.

Your Doctor or Pharmacist will advise you if this is a possibility with your treatment. The extent to which your blood glucose is affected will also depend on the duration and intensity of the exercise. It differs from person to person. Try to learn how your body responds to different kinds of physical activities by testing your blood glucose level before and after exercise. You may need to carry some glucose sweets or a snack if you are doing strenuous or prolonged physical activity.

Stop any physical activity of you feel symptoms of a hypo and take your fast-acting carbohydrate (glucose sweets).  You can also speak to your Diabetes Nurse about how to manage your diabetes while exercising.

Weight Management

A healthcare professional, including your Pharmacist, can assess whether your current weight is healthy, by measuring your height and weight and using these to calculate your Body Mass Index.  

If you carry extra weight around your abdomen (middle) losing it will help you manage your diabetes as it helps your bodies insulin to work better. Waist circumference can often be a more telling indicator for health than weight, particularly, waist circumference is an independent risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease.

Waist circumference greater than 94cm for men and 80cm for women indicates an increased risk of Cardiovascular disease, and a waist circumference greater than 100cm for men or 88cm for women indicates a substantially increased risk of Cardiovascular Disease.

While weight loss has a number of proven benefits, it is very important not to lose weight too quickly. You should aim to lose no more than 5-10Kg over a 3-6 month period, or 10% of your total body weight. This must be achieved gradually, you can aim for a maximum loss of 0.5-1Kg per week. If you lose weight faster than this, you will end up losing muscle as well as fat which is not recommended and can lead to further health complications.

For Further information on Exercise and Weight Management talk to your Doctor, Pharmacist or dedicated Diabetes Nurse Specialist.

How your Pharmacist can help?

Pharmacists play an important role in the care and support of people diagnosed with Diabetes. Your Pharmacist is the most accessible healthcare professional and is readily available to: 

  • Offer advice to help promote a healthy, balanced, lifestyle.
  • Monitor BMI (Body Mass Index),
  • Provide advice and Support to Stop Smoking,
  • Monitor Blood glucose levels,
  • Answer questions about diabetes and related health conditions.
  • Offer guidance on the proper use of medications and other supplies used to treat diabetes.
  • Reduce the risk of complications through early detection of Diabetes and by contributing to the management of the risk factors for complications.

Ask your local CarePlus Pharmacist for help and advice in managing your Diabetes.

There are lots of supports available from Diabetes Ireland, see or telephone 01-842 8118

Information from Diabetes Ireland

Diabetes Ireland