Exercise Rehabilitation for Diabetes and Obesity


  • Globally, obesity is an increasing concern with trends indicating that by 2030, nearly 60% of the world’s adult population could be overweight or obese. 4

  • Obesity is a well-established risk factor for mortality and morbidity from several chronic conditions including Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM), cardiovascular disease and several cancers. 4,5,6

Benefits of Exercise for Obesity

  • Significant health benefits and improvements in disease risk factors have been observed after weight loss of 5-10% of total body weight. 4,7 This weight loss can be achieved through lifestyle interventions that aim to combine reductions in energy intake, with increases in energy expenditure through exercise. 8


While body mass index (or BMI) is frequently used to as the criteria for obesity, more precise measures of body composition can be provided by The ExerScience Clinic using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (or DXA). Not only does DXA provide information about the amount of lean tissue and fat tissue you have, but it can also accurately measure visceral adipose tissue (VAT) which is the fat which sits around the internal organs and is strongly associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. Research has demonstrated that moderate to high intensity exercise had the highest potential to reduce this dangerous abdominal fat. 6



  • Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases characterised by high blood glucose levels as a result of defective insulin production or insulin resistance.

  • Diabetes is tied to overweightness and obesity and as such has also become a global epidemic. The number of diabetics has increased more than two-fold in the past three decades to an estimated 285 million people worldwide, with a projected rise to 439 million by 2030. 1


Benefits of Exercise for Diabetes

  • There is encouraging evidence that exercise plays a pivotal role in the prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM). 2

    • A ground-breaking study focused on the importance of lifestyle modification - exercise and diet - in the prevention of T2DM in at risk men and women.

    • After a 3 year follow up, the lowest incidence of T2DM was seen in the group that modified their lifestyle, compared to the control group or the group on Metformin therapy.

  • In the acute phase, regular exercise training can result in improvements in systemic insulin action lasting from 2-72 hours.

  • In those with T2DM, undertaking moderate to vigorous intensity exercise 2-3 days/week can increase glucose uptake. 3


1. Chen, 2012. The worldwide epidemiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus—present and future perspectives. 2. Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, 2002. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention of metformin. 3. Colberg, 2010. Exercise and type 2 diabetes. 4. Johns, 2014. Diet or exercise interventions vs combined behavioural weight management programs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of direct comparisons. 5. Lal, 2012. Health care and lost productivity costs of overweight and obesity in New Zealand. 6. Vissers, 2013. The effects of exercise on visceral adipose tissue in overweight adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 7. American College of Sports Medicine, 2013. ACSM Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. 8. Wing, 2002. Behavioural weight control.