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Exercise and Diabetes

Exercise is one of the top 3 ways for controlling blood sugar, along with following a healthy diabetes meal plan and taking medicine as part of your treatment plan. Exercise is especially important for people with diabetes. Learn more about the benefits of being active.

Before you start

Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program. Your doctor can help you decide what kind of physical activities are right for you. You’ll also want to have a discussion about the diabetes medicines you take, both prescription and over-the-counter. You may need to change the amount you take before you exercise.

Ideas for exercise when you have diabetes

  • Extra daily activity. Chores like walking the dog, cleaning the house, and washing the car are activities you can use to boost your activity level. The idea is to lengthen some of your daily tasks in order to be active longer. You can also replace some daily activities with others. For instance, instead of taking a coffee break or having a snack, you could go for a walk
  • Aerobic exercise. This type of activity means raising your heart rate and probably breaking a sweat. With aerobic exercise, you use the large muscles in your body, such as the ones in your legs. This could include brisk walking or hiking, cycling, basketball or other sports, dancing, or taking an aerobics class at the gym
  • Strength training. Lifting weights or working with resistance can help you build muscle. This type of exercise can help you burn calories more easily, since muscle burns more calories than fat. With larger, stronger muscles, you may find that you have better coordination and balance
  • Stretching. Simple stretches like touching your toes or sitting cross-legged can make your muscles more flexible. It can also help your muscles feel less sore after exercise or a long, active day

How you choose to exercise is less important than finding a way to stay active regularly. Learn more about being active as a part of your life on

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