Diabetes and Physical Activity

Getting enough exercise is important for everyone and particularly individuals with diabetes. Physical activity can improve muscle insulin sensitivity and allow more glucose into muscle cells, lowering blood glucose levels. Being more active can help with overall diabetes management and promote weight loss and cardiovascular health. Another benefit of physical activity is that it increases levels of “feel good” endorphins known to reduce perceptions of stress and fatigue and boost mood. Getting off the couch will not only improve health but can also reduce the need for medications or insulin.

At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, aerobic activity a week is recommended.

Some example activities include:

  • Riding a bike — try saving gas and biking to work!
  • Hiking — try a new trail this weekend.
  • Dancing — check out your area for dancing lessons, or dance around your house.
  • Aerobic classes — you can find these at most gyms, or even at your local senior center.
  • Workout shows on television.
    • Is the show during a bad time for you? Record it!
    • There are great low impact options like “Sit and Be Fit” that allow you to get exercise from the comfort of a chair.
  • Check out workout DVD’s from your local library — it’s free!

Managing diabetes can be frustrating. Trying to include physical activity may seem daunting. Start slowly and begin to make changes gradually, and you will become more and more comfortable.

For more information, check out Diabetes: Nutrition and Health: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/diabetes-nutrition-and-health-9-334/.


Before you start an exercise program, talk to your doctor to learn how to protect yourself from low blood glucose.