BACKGROUND: For decades, exercise has been considered a cornerstone of diabetes managements, along with diet and medication. Many studies have shown that regular physical activity improves quality of life, reduces the risk of mortality from all causes, and is particularly advantageous in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, high-quality evidence and basic data on the importance of exercise and physical fitness in Korean diabetic patients were lacking until recent years. METHOD: This study included 240 diabetic patients (122 men, 118 women) recruited from 6 diabetic centers in Korea. To measure step length and walking velocity at normal walking speed, we made the patient walk 12 meter at normal speed. The patients wore the pedometer for 7 days and we got the equation between the walking steps per day and calorie expenditure for 7 days. From the equation, we calculated appropriate steps, distance and duration of walking in type 2 diabetic patients as exercise program RESULTS: In men, the walking velocity was 4.4 +/- 0.6 km/h and step length was 67.6 +/- 7.3 cm at normal walking speed. In women, the walking velocity was 4.0 +/- 0.6 km/h and step length was 58.4 +/- 5.5 cm at normal walking speed. The equation between kcal per week and steps per day was that kcal/week = (steps/day) x 0.268 + 64.074 (R2 = 0.854, P < 0.01) in men and kcal/week in women = (steps/day) x 0.256 - 39.005 (R2 = 0.890, P < 0.01). The steps/day, walking distance and walking duration which correspond to 700 kcal/week was 2,373 steps/day, 21.9 minutes and 1,604 meter in men, and 2,887 steps/day, 25.3 minutes and 1,690 meter in women at normal walking speed. CONCLUSION: To exert at least 700 kcal/week with exercise, it is recommended that type 2 diabetic patients walk at least 25 minutes/day or 1,700 meter/day or 2,500 steps/day in men and 30 minutes/day or 1,800 meter/day or 3,000 steps/day in women at normal walking speed.