Diabetes and Physical Activity
Physical activity is a tool to help manage your diabetes. It is a very important part of your diabetes treatment plan and can help you feel your healthiest. Physical activity is valuable because it can:
- Lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure
- Raise HDL ("good cholesterol")
- Promote weight loss
- Improve blood circulation
- Help the body better use insulin
- Reduce stress and make you feel better
- Increase flexibility
What do I need?
- Your doctor's permission before beginning a physical activity program
- A physical activity you enjoy
- Properly fitting shoes
How often should I do the activity?
Start your activity slowly and increase gradually. Your goal should be to exercise at least 30 minutes, five days per week, or as recommended by your health care provider. A 30-minute session may be broken up into three 10-minute sessions.
- To decrease the risk of low blood sugar, check your blood sugar before you begin your session. If it's over 250 mg/dl and ketones are present, delay the activity until your blood sugar levels are under 250. If your blood sugar is below 100, you might need a snack (1 carb) before beginning the activity.
- The best time for a session is 30 minutes to one hour after eating a meal.
- Check your feet for blisters/sores before and after any physical activity.
- If you take medicine that lowers blood sugar levels, carry a carbohydrate source such as glucose tablets or hard candy.
- Include a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and cool-down period.
- Drink water before, during, and after physical activity.
- Try to exercise with someone.
- Check your blood sugar after an activity. For some people, exercise can lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours.
- Carry diabetes identification.
How to start
- Set realistic goals with the help of your health care provider.
- Make a plan. Identify ways to increase your physical activity.
- Go out of your way to be active and decrease inactivity.
Managing your weight
If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds can help lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. You will lessen the strain on your bones and joints and will feel better all the way around. Here are some tips to help you start managing your weight:
- Take stock. Begin by keeping track of what, when, where, and how you eat now.
- Assess your willingness to change.
- Make a plan. Identify which habits you will change now and which ones you will change later.
- Set realistic goals. A ½- to one-pound weight loss per week is a reasonable goal.
Follow a healthy eating plan
- Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups.
- Avoid fad diets that eliminate whole groups of food.
- Eat smaller portions.
- Eat less fat.
- Avoid skipping meals.
- Exercise. Successful weight loss includes daily exercise.
- Keep it off. Make your new healthy eating and exercise changes a permanent way of life.
- American Diabetes Association. Fitness Accessed 9/12/2013.
- American Diabetes Association. What We Recommend Accessed 9/12/2013.
© Copyright 1995-2016 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
Can't find the health information you’re looking for?
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/29/2013...#11655