Exercise to Manage Diabetes

While exercise is good for all of us, it is especially important for individuals with diabetes.

Exercise works to help manage blood sugar by increasing metabolism and helping burn calories to provide energy for the body.

This is especially important for a person with diabetes. When metabolism increases, it improves the body’s ability to use insulin — ultimately, helping to regulate blood glucose.


How to get moving

The key is to get moving — daily. A good activity is aerobic exercise, which gets the heart rate up as it stretches large muscles in your body.

Climbing stairs, swimming, dancing and biking are all examples of aerobic exercise. 

It's important to couple aerobic exercise with strength and flexibility training.

By using basic hand weights or elastic bands at home, or various types of weight machines at a local gym, you can build muscle mass and strengthen your bones.

Best of all, the more muscle mass and less fat you have, the more calories you’ll burn, again providing better blood sugar control.

Tip: If you haven't exercised lately, then you should first visit your doctor or diabetes educator to discuss the level of activity right for you, particularly if you have type 1 diabetes.


Is there such a thing as too much exercise?

Too much exercise can be a bad thing for those with diabetes if exercise is not properly managed. Here’s what you need to know:

Type 1: People with type 1 diabetes should avoid strenuous exercise when they have ketones in their blood or urine as it can put you at risk for hyperglycemia and any number of complications that can result to the eyes, kidneys or nervous system.

Type 2: Too much physical activity can cause low blood glucose in people who take insulin or certain types of diabetes medications. If your blood glucose drops too low, you could pass out or have a seizure.

Having diabetes shouldn’t prevent you from exercising; you just need to be aware of how overdoing it could affect your body if you don’t monitor blood glucose accordingly.


EvergreenHealth diabetes classes

EvergreenHealth offers a number of diabetes education classes to help patients better manage their disease and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Click here to see the class descriptions.


Want More Healthiest Best Exercise Ideas?

Visit our Healthiest Best Exercise homepage for more great ideas to work activity into your daily routine.