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Diabetes and exercise

Staying physically active is important for everyone. For people with diabetes, keeping fit can also positively affect your blood sugar levels. Regular exercise can help you manage your weight and lower your blood pressure, too.

The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) points out that you should aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days of the week.


The CDC gives these recommendations when it comes to starting a new exercise regimen:

  • Talk to your doctor to make sure that your exercise plan is safe based on your current physical condition.
  • Start slowly if you’re working on becoming more physically active; brisk walking is a great form of exercise.
  • Stay consistent with your daily exercise routine; 10 – 20 minutes a day is better than working out for an hour once a week.


Exercise considerations:

Often blood sugar levels go down during exercise, especially if you are taking insulin or other diabetes medications. To make sure your blood sugar stays within an adequate range and that you don’t experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), the CDC recommends that you test your blood before and after exercise. You may also want to bring a snack or glucose tablets with you to have after your workout. Note: Let someone at your workout facility know about your condition in case your blood sugar level drops, you become hypoglycemic, and require immediate care.  

Make sure to have comfortable, sturdy shoes for working out. You might also want to purchase socks that are specially designed to help improve blood circulation. Check your feet after working out for any signs of injury, such as blisters or cuts. You should let your doctor know if you have any broken skin on your feet (these injuries often require special medical attention and take time to heal) or if you’re experiencing any loss of sensation in your feet.

People with diabetes are at greater risk of dehydration. When exercising, make sure to drink plenty of water.


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What are diabetes complications?