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Types of Exercise for People With Diabetes

Four kinds of activity can help people with diabetes. You can try:
  • Being extra active every day
  • Doing aerobic exercise
  • Doing strength training
  • Stretching.
Being Extra Active Every Day
Being extra active can increase the number of calories you burn. There are many ways to be extra active:
  • Walk around while you talk on the phone.
  • Play with the kids.
  • Take the dog for a walk.
  • Get up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control.
  • Work in the garden or rake leaves.
  • Clean the house.
  • Wash the car.
  • Stretch out your chores. For example, make two trips to take the laundry downstairs instead of one.
  • Park at the far end of the shopping center lot and walk to the store.
  • At the grocery store, walk down every aisle.
  • At work, walk over to see a co-worker instead of calling or e-mailing.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Stretch or walk around instead of taking a coffee break and eating.
  • During your lunch break, walk to the post office or do other errands.
Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is activity that requires the use of large muscles and makes your heart beat faster. You will also breathe harder during aerobic exercise. Doing such exercise for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, provides many benefits. You can even split up those 30 minutes into several parts. For example, you can take three brisk 10-minute walks, one after each meal.
If you haven't exercised lately, see your doctor first to make sure it's OK for you to increase your level of physical activity. Talk with your doctor about how to warm up and stretch before exercise and how to cool down afterwards. Then start slowly with 5 to 10 minutes a day. Add a little more time each week, aiming for 150 to 200 minutes per week. Try:
  • Walking briskly
  • Hiking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Swimming or taking a water-aerobics class
  • Dancing
  • Riding a bicycle outdoors or a stationary bicycle indoors
  • Taking an aerobics class
  • Playing basketball, volleyball, or other sports
  • In-line skating, ice skating, or skateboarding
  • Playing tennis
  • Cross-country skiing.
Strength Training
Doing exercises with hand weights, elastic bands, or weight machines two or three times a week builds muscle. When you have more muscle and less fat, you'll burn more calories because muscle burns more calories than fat, even between exercise sessions. Strength training can help:
  • Make daily chores easier
  • Improve your balance and coordination
  • Make your bones healthier.
You can do strength training at home, at a fitness center, or in a class. Your healthcare team can tell you more about strength training and what kind is best for you.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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