Why Should I be Physically Active If I Have Diabetes?

September 2017

When you have diabetes, physical activity is an important part of managing your blood glucose level and staying healthy. Of course, being active has many health benefits. Physical activity:

  • lowers blood glucose levels
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves blood flow
  • burns extra calories so you can keep your weight down if needed
  • improves your mood
  • can help prevent falls and improve memory in older adults
  • may help you sleep better

If you are overweight, combining physical activity with a reduced-calorie eating plan can lead to even more benefits. In the Look AHEAD: Action for Health in Diabetes study (a randomized clinical trial created to examine the effects of a lifestyle intervention in achieving and maintaining long-term weight loss), overweight adults with type 2 diabetes who ate less and moved more had greater long-term health benefits compared with those who didn’t make these changes. These benefits included improved cholesterol levels, less sleep apnea and being able to move around more easily.

Even small amounts of physical activity can help. Experts suggest that you aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity five days per week. (Moderate activity feels somewhat hard, and vigorous activity is intense and feels hard.) If you want to lose weight or maintain weight loss, you may need to do 60 minutes or more of physical activity five days per week.

Be patient. It may take a few weeks of physical activity before you see changes in your health. Note: You may want to monitor your blood glucose more closely when exercising. Talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

More Diabetes Articles