The Best Exercises For Diabetes Management

Regular exercise is a crucial part of diabetes management. 

But knowing where to start or what exercises you should do can be challenging. 

That’s why we have composed this guide of the best exercises to help you manage your diabetes. 

Keep reading to find out what they are.

Benefits of exercise for diabetes

When you are diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, the practitioner often will advise you that you have a period to improve your diet, add regular exercise, and induce weight loss

During this grace period, it is possible to improve glycemic control and prevent needing medication or getting diabetes mellitus.  

Physical activity improves the insulin resistance often associated with type 2 diabetes and will also help lower blood sugar levels. 

If you are experiencing hyperglycemia, one of the first actionable steps is to get moving.

Get Your FREE Diabetes Diet Plan

  • 15 foods to naturally lower blood sugar levels
  • 3 day sample meal plan
  • Designed exclusively by our nutritionist

By clicking “Download Now”, I agree to Ben's Natural Health Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Exercises for diabetics

If you aren’t used to exercising regularly, it is essential to start slowly. 

First, it is necessary to make sure you warm up and cool down. But where do you start? 

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic and moderate exercise. 

You should spread the exercise throughout the week with no more than two days of inactivity. 

Here we take a look at different exercise options. 

Strength Training

Strength training will improve both strength and endurance. 

While most associate it with weight training, it can also include things like flexibility exercises

These include calisthenics and plyometrics. 

“Plyo,” meaning jump, can consist of push-ups, jumping, or playing sports like volleyball, basketball, and tennis. 

Resistance exercise utilizes either bodyweight, dumbbells or weight machines, or resistance bands.

Beginners to exercise may find that utilizing their body weight is the perfect place to start with strength training. 

Overusing a muscle is less likely to occur using your body weight or a resistance band. 

In addition, resistance training is relatively easy to do anywhere and does not require significant pieces of equipment or weights. 

If trialing weights, it is important to start low and slow. 

Meaning, start with small increments of weight and a low number of repetitions. 

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic activity is fantastic for improving many aspects of your life. 

This type of exercise includes activities like dancing, riding a bike, or walking. 

Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure, decreases your weight, increases your HDL levels (good cholesterol), and boosts your mood

It helps lower blood sugar levels up to 24 hours post-exercise. 

As time goes on, your body becomes used to regular exercise and will increase your insulin sensitivity.

As the intensity of your activity increases, your body switches from aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise. 

During aerobic exercise, oxygen reaches the muscles of your body. 

During anaerobic, the muscles are not fed oxygen, and glycogen is pulled from the liver as an energy source. 

If the glycogen stores are depleted, lactic acid builds up and can create muscle soreness post-exercise. 

It is in this state that calories burn.  

Providing a mixture of both aerobic and anaerobic is an integral part of an exercise prescription. 

Brisk Walking

Brisk walking is an excellent way to elevate your heart rate. 

While your pace should be above a walk, you should be able to conduct a conversation without being out of breath. 

If you are a smartwatch user or utilize exercise apps, a brisk walk constitutes 2.5 miles per hour. 


While low blood sugar levels can occur with any exercise, cardio exercise shows a more negligible effect on blood sugar levels overnight than resistance training. 

Carbohydrate intake must be adequate to ensure hypoglycemia does not occur. 

As we burn fat for fuel, Ketones are produced. 

Ketone production increases during activity. 

If your insulin level is too low, the ketones are not metabolized efficiently which can cause high blood sugar levels that can be dangerous. 

Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes are strongly encouraged to check for ketones with activity long in duration. 

How to manage your diabetes during exercise 

Diabetic patients should always check blood glucose levels before initiating exercise. 

Understanding that hypoglycemia may occur can help you take proactive steps to ensure you are at a good number before starting vigorous exercise. 

You should always carry medical identification with you in case of an emergency. 

Have a pack ready to go for the activity containing items such as a 15g carbohydrate snack, juice box, or glucose tablets.

1-week exercise plan

All exercise routines should be reviewed with a physician and trainer. 

If you are on injectable insulin, it is necessary to share your exercise training to plan accordingly.   

Day 1

Aerobic exercise. Walk, jog, treadmill, or outdoors for 30 minutes at moderate intensity.

Day 2

Weight training. Work all major muscle groups, including the upper and lower legs, arms, shoulders, back, chest, abdominals, and buttocks. Use repetitions of 10 2x. 

Day 3 and 4

Aerobic training as for day 1.

Day 5

Weight training as for day 2.

Day 6

Aerobic training as for day 1.

Day 7



The more muscle you exercise and build, the more depots for glucose disposal and storage you create. 

Cycling between aerobic and weight training is the most efficient way to exercise. 

Resting is as important as exercise because your body needs time to recuperate from the hard work that you have done.


Moving around to limit sedentary activity can have significant effects on long-term health and cardiovascular disease prevention. 

Tight blood sugar control and physical exercise will lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimer’s, several types of cancer, and pregnancy complications. 

Other benefits include an improvement in sleep, improved cognition, less weight gain, better bone health and balance, fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and better quality of life.

By establishing a regular exercise routine, you will find that your blood glucose level begins to stabilize. 

Beyond improvements in physical health, your mental outlook and well-being will likely improve.

Explore More


Find out Benefits of Yoga for Diabetes You Didn’t Know About & Practical Poses.


  1. Padayachee C, Coombes JS. Exercise guidelines for gestational diabetes mellitus. World J Diabetes. 2015;6(8):1033-1044.
  2. Adams OP. The impact of brief high-intensity exercise on blood glucose levels. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2013;6:113-122.
  3. Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Yardley JE, et al. Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2016.

Top Products

Total Health


Glucose Control