Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094895
  • Review

Exercise prescription for patients with type 2 diabetes—a synthesis of international recommendations: narrative review

  1. José Luís Themudo-Barata4
  1. 1Public Health Unit, ACES Douro I—Marão e Douro Norte, Vila Real, Portugal
  2. 2Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development (CIDESD), University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal
  3. 3Diabetes Unit, Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Hospital Centre, Vila Real, Portugal
  4. 4University of Beira Interior; Cova da Beira Hospital Centre, Covilhã, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Romeu Mendes, Unidade de Saúde Pública do ACES Douro I—Marão e Douro Norte, Administração Regional de Saúde do Norte, IP, Rua Miguel Torga, 12 F, Vila Real 5000-524, Portugal; romeuduartemendes{at}
  • Accepted 1 December 2015
  • Published Online First 30 December 2015


Background Physical activity is a cornerstone of type 2 diabetes treatment and control.

Aim We analysed and synthesised the guidelines and recommendations issued by scientific organisations, regarding exercise prescription for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Method A systematic bibliographic search in Pubmed, Web of Science and Scopus databases was conducted. Clinical guidelines from major international scientific organisations in the field of diabetology, endocrinology, cardiology, public health and sports medicine were also considered. 11 publications were selected.

Results Published guidelines recommend a weekly accumulation of a minimum of 150 min of aerobic exercise at moderate-to-vigorous intensity spread over a minimum of 3 days per week. Resistance exercise for muscle strengthening is also recommended at least 2 days a week. Flexibility exercises may complement other types of exercise. Combining aerobic and resistance exercise within the same exercise session is recommended by most guidelines.

Conclusions Exercise prescription for individuals with type 2 diabetes should include specific information on the type, mode, duration, intensity and weekly frequency. The exercise strategies must be adapted for each individual, based on comorbidities, contraindications and realistic personal goals.

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