How to Control Diabetes With Exercise

Exercise Guidelines

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. A doctor can help you form an exercise program.

The following guidelines can help you increase your activity level safely. Be sure to work with your diabetes care team, too, so they can monitor you and provide specialized advice for your specific situation.


First, be screened by your doctor for any possible problems before you start any type of activity. This exam should include a treadmill test for people with diabetes who fit certain criteria, an eye examination for proliferative retinopathy, a urine examination for protein, and a medical evaluation of your feet.

Whatever you choose, make sure the activities are enjoyable for you and take into account your abilities and condition. The activities don't even have to be "exercises" in the traditional sense, as long as they get you moving. Square dancing, taking your dog on long walks, riding your bike, gardening, and even walking the golf course all count.

Vary them so you don't get bored and fall prey to easy excuses. Choose some that can be done with others and some that can be done alone; some that can be done indoors, some that can be done outdoors; some that can be done when your schedule is light, and some that can be fit in when you're strapped for time.

Type of Activity

Once you've received your team's okay for exercise, you need to choose activities that fit your physical condition, lifestyle, and tastes. Many people with diabetes, especially those who have not been physically active for a while, find that easy, low-impact activities such as walking and swimming are perfect

Time, Intensity, and Duration

Begin each exercise session with a five- to ten-minute period of low-intensity warm-up activity (such as marching in place) and gentle stretching. The warm-up will prepare your heart for increased activity. The stretching will help you avoid tendon and muscle problems, which are common in people whose tendons have become brittle after years of high blood glucose levels.