Dear Susannah,

If at some point you have asked yourself what is the best diabetes type 2 treatment you can get nowadays, the answer is …. exercise! Without any question, it is also the safest and the cheapest. When combined with an appropriate diabetes diet, the disease can have minimal impact on daily life.

I firmly believe that if doctors were as eager to write a prescription for exercise to their diabetic patients as they are to give a prescription for diabetes medication, many diabetes diseases would not develop.

I am putting together for you a collection of documents on exercise so you can understand how being physically active is your best and safest treatment for diabetes type 2. Please, print this series of documents as I send them to you and go over them often until they are etched in your memory and become part of you.   

Regular exercise is crucial for you

Regular exercise is so crucial to manage diabetes, that for people with pre-diabetes it can very well mean reversing the condition instead of moving into full-blown type 2 diabetes. And for those patients with diabetes type 2, regular exercise can mean the difference between having mild insulin resistance and being dependant on heavy medication.

What happens when you exercise?

Besides moving your legs, arms and the like, there are other mechanisms that move inside your body when you exercise. Let’s take a look at some of the ones that affect your level of sugar in the blood:

  1. When you start exercising, your muscles use the glucose (blood sugar) they have stored for these types of occasions. Glucose provides them the energy they need to perform the task. One of the first benefits we encounter here is that exercise helps your muscles use glucose more efficiently.
  2. As the muscles start running out of glucose, certain hormones send the liver a signal to release more glucose into the blood so the muscles have a supply available to them.
  3. If you keep exercising, eventually your muscles will run out of glucose and they will start breaking down the fat in your cells (triglycerides).
  4. As you have guessed by now, this results in less fat in your cells, which means you are losing weight.

The digestion of food

When we eat, food is converted into sugar (glucose) in the intestine. From there, glucose goes to the blood, increasing the level of blood sugar. The blood maintains a normal level of glucose in the blood of about 1 gram per liter of blood (gr/lt).  When a person without diabetes eats, the blood sugar level raises up to 1.25 gr/lt. However, when a person with diabetes eats, the glucose in the blood can increase up to 1.80 gr/lt.

No matter how much the level of sugar goes up in the blood after a meal, a complex system of signals in your body tells the pancreas that there is more glucose than normal in the blood. When the pancreas receives this signal, right away sends insulin to help glucose enter the cells. It is very important that this mechanism works well because in order for us to have energy, glucose has to get inside the cells.

The problem people with diabetes have is that glucose cannot get inside their cells and remains circulating in the blood vessels. This predicament can create many complications such as eye and kidney damage, heart disease, wounds that not heal and many more.

How does glucose get into your cells?

As insulin leaves the pancreas, it carries by the hand special molecules called GLUT-2 transporters. These molecules

This is the way it works in a healthy person. However, in people with diabetes, the mechanism not always works this efficiently because either there are not enough GLUT-2 to hold the glucose molecules and carry them to the cell membrane or there are not enough GLUT-4 transporters to usher glucose molecules inside the cell. And here is where exercise comes to place. 
attach themselves to the glucose particles circulating in the blood and escort them to the outside of the cell, the membrane.  There, these transporters “knock” on the many doors of the membrane and ask the GLUT-4 transporters (a similar type of molecules that live inside the cells) to come to the surface and take the glucose molecules into the cell, which they do.

Exercise can make up for lack of insulin

Believe it or not, moderate exercise such as briskly walking, appears to do the same job as GLUT-2 molecules do. Exercise “knocks” at the membrane cells doors and “asks” the GLUT-4 molecules to come to the surface, grab the glucose molecules from the blood, and get them inside the cell, thus clearing the glucose from the blood. Astonishing, isn’t it?

And if that weren’t enough, exercise also increases the number of GLUT-4 transporters. So, the more you walk, the more GLUT-4 transporters your body makes; and the more GLUT-4 transporters you have inside your cells the more glucose can enter your cells, lowering your blood glucose level. Not a small reward for just exercising!


I am Andy Carpenter and I would start by saying that I have a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition Science conferred by California State University, Los Angeles and that I am certified as a Registered Dietitian.

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