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Be Active With Diabetes

Help keep your diabetes under control with physical activity.

man and woman walking down the street

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, getting physical activity can benefit your health. For people with prediabetes or diabetes, exercise can play a valuable role in managing the disease progression. It may also help reduce the risk of complications.

Some health benefits of physical activity:

  • Better glucose control
  • Fewer cardiovascular risk factors
  • Lower “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Weight management
  • Lower levels of stress and anxiety
  • Stronger bones
  • More flexibility
  • General health improvement

Get started with exercise

Having a plan for exercise is important when you have diabetes. Ask your doctor about your safe range of blood sugar levels. Test your blood glucose before, during and after you exercise. Know how to treat it if it is too low or too high.

Before you start an exercise plan, check with your doctor. Find out which exercises are safe for you. Then follow these tips:

  • Start slowly. Work out for 5 to 10 minutes most days of the week and increase to 30 minutes. Gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity. A special note: Everyone, including people who have diabetes, should limit sedentary time to no more than 90 minutes at a time.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • Take special care of your feet. If you develop any sores or blisters, call your doctor. Wear comfortable shoes that fit. Wear socks that keep moisture away from your feet.
  • Always wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace whether or not you are active.

Remember, exercise is only part of living with diabetes. Other healthy lifestyle habits are important, too, like managing your weight, eating healthy, avoiding tobacco and coping with stress.

By Mary Armstrong, Contributing Writer

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Accessed: March 25, 2015.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes–2015.Accessed: April 13, 2015.
American Diabetes Association. Injury-Free Exercise – 11 Quick Safety Tips. Accessed: March 25, 2015.

Last Updated: April 24, 2015