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Physical Activity and Diabetes

Everyone has something to gain from regular exercise—regardless of your fitness level, age and health. Physical activity has tons of benefits, including: weight loss, stronger bones, improved blood pressure control, increased energy levels and lower risk of heart disease and cancer.

Why is exercise important?

Engaging in regular physical activity is especially important if you have diabetes. Why? Exercising on a regular basis increases your body’s ability to absorb insulin and manage your blood glucose levels, which reduces the need for insulin and oral medications. Sometimes, diabetes can be treated completely with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

What kind of exercise should I do?

Generally, people with diabetes should do a combination of aerobic exercises and resistance training. Any continuous exercise that makes you breath harder and elevates your heart rate is considered aerobic exercise. Walking, jogging, biking and swimming are all great aerobic exercises.

Resistance training, on the other hand, involves brief and repetitive movements using weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or the resistance of your own body weight. Resistance training helps build up muscle strength, which speeds up the fat-burning process.

How much exercise should I get?

As a rule of thumb, diabetics should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week—that’s 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, you may want to start with five or 10 minutes of aerobic activity each day and build from there.

Once you’ve built up enough strength, you can break up your aerobic exercises by adding resistance training three times a week. You can focus on aerobic exercise one day and resistance exercise the next, or you can break up your individual workouts with a little bit of each. It doesn’t matter how you choose to incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine—what’s important is that you do!

Whenever you start a new fitness regime, it’s key to monitor your blood sugar levels closely with a blood glucose monitor (get on for free from Medisure!). Understanding how exercise affects your body’s ability to control your blood glucose levels will help you determine how much medication to take and what foods to eat.

Regardless of your physical condition, choosing to become more physically active is one of the best decisions you can ever make. Not only will it help you lose weight and improve your endurance, but it will also reduce the severity of your diabetes! So what are you waiting for? Get active today!


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