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Learn How Exercise Helps Control Diabetes

physiotherapy for diabetes cambridge

Discover the transformative power of exercise in managing diabetes, a prevalent chronic condition in Canada. This post explores the vital role of physical activity in controlling type II diabetes, from enhancing insulin sensitivity to reducing health risks. 

Learn about the recommended exercise guidelines and the importance of professional guidance in safely incorporating exercise into your routine. We also touch on crucial foot care for individuals with diabetes. Join us to find out how exercise and expert advice can help you lead a healthier life with diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic health conditions in Canada, with type II diabetes accounting for 90% of cases.1,2 In type II diabetes, the body cannot effectively produce or use insulin. This results in above-normal blood sugar levels, as insulin is an important hormone for blood sugar regulation.2 When left untreated, elevated blood sugar levels can be very harmful to the body and lead to complications such as nerve damage, vision loss, heart disease and kidney disease.3

The Importance of Exercise

Extensive research shows that physical activity plays a crucial role in both the prevention and treatment of type II diabetes.4 Studies suggest that regular exercise is an extremely effective treatment for type II diabetes at the right frequency and intensity.4 Regular physical activity in this population increases insulin sensitivity, improves blood sugar regulation, lowers the risk of heart disease and nerve damage, and helps to maintain a healthy weight.5 

Physical Activity Guidelines

The current exercise guidelines for people with diabetes recommend at least 150 min/week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, as well as strength training of all major muscle groups at least twice a week.5 Aerobic exercise includes activities that increase your heart rate, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, elliptical, or tennis.5 It is suggested to break up the 150 min each week into smaller bouts of 20-30 min.5 

Keeping this in mind, we should understand what types of exercise are beneficial to controlling these numbers. Many people go ‘all out’ and think that working out in a gym would help but this could lead to injury and other complications when done using poor mechanics. 

Physiotherapists are registered health professionals who have the knowledge and skills to help people with diabetes exercise safely and reach their health goals. They are trained in prescribing the correct dose (frequency, intensity, type) of exercise to help people with diabetes manage their condition and live healthier lives.  

Foot Care and Diabetes

Another important component of diabetes management is foot care. People with diabetes often have reduced sensation in their feet, and are at increased risk of foot problems as a result.6 Maintaining healthy feet is essential for people with diabetes. 

It is important for this population to wash and inspect their feet daily, and to get their feet checked regularly by a professional.6 At Cambridge Physiotherapy & Rehab Center, our team includes a Nurse who specializes in foot care, as well as many skilled Physiotherapists with the knowledge and experience to prescribe exercise safely as a treatment. 

Book with Us!

If you or a loved one has diabetes or prediabetes, take control of your health and contact our team today to schedule an appointment with our Nurse or one of our Physiotherapists. Get your life & health back, faster!


  1. Chronic diseases and conditions [Internet]. Public Health Ontario; [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/chronic-diseases-and-conditions
  2. What is diabetes? [Internet]. Canadian Diabetes Association; [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/what-is-diabetes
  3. What is diabetes? [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
  4. Amanat S, Ghahri S, Dianatinasab A, Fararouei M, Dianatinasab M. Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes. In: Physical Exercise for Human Health [Internet]. Singapore: Springer Singapore; 2020 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. p. 91–105. Available from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-15-1792-1_6
  5. Get active! [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2022 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html#:~:text=The%20goal%20is%20to%20get,%2C%20shoulders%2C%20and%20arms)
  6. Diabetes and your feet [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/healthy-feet.html 
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