Diabetes Forecast

Tech Encourages Exercise

By Matt McMillen , , ,

Photo Credit: ShendArt/BigStock

What to Know

Exercise improves blood glucose control and offers protection against diabetes complications. It also helps keep weight down and boosts heart health. However, the majority of people with type 2 diabetes get less exercise than is recommended—or don’t exercise at all. Research has shown that people get more exercise when they use a pedometer, a small wearable device that counts the number of steps you take. This study examined whether people with type 2 diabetes would get a similar benefit from such devices.

The Study

Researchers in England reviewed 12 previously published studies that focused on the use of pedometers or accelerometers, which measure movement, by adults with type 2 diabetes. Those studies, conducted around the world, included a total of 1,458 participants who were followed for an average of eight months. The researchers used the studies’ data to determine whether people with type 2 diabetes increased their physical activity when using a pedometer or an accelerometer. They also investigated whether these devices might help improve blood glucose, blood pressure, and other health measures.

The Results

The researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes increased their weekly exercise by an average of about one hour when they wore a pedometer or an accelerometer. However, they report that the use of such devices did not improve A1C levels (a measure of blood glucose levels over the previous three months); blood pressure; cholesterol, triglycerides, or other fats in the blood; or body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height used to estimate how close a person is to a healthy weight).


If you need motivation to exercise, use a pedometer or an accelerometer. The authors don’t know whether such devices lead to long-lasting or short-lived boosts in activity, but they call their use an important, low-cost step to becoming more active. This study examined standalone devices, but most smartphones feature similar functions, when paired with a fitness app.

Impact of Accelerometer and Pedometer Use on Physical Activity and Glycaemic Control in People With Type 2 Diabetes: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” R. Baskerville, I. Ricci-Cabello, N. Roberts, and A. Farmer. Diabetic Medicine, May 2017; 34 (5): 612-620.

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



Take the Type 2
Diabetes Risk Test