Why Exercise is Important When You Have Diabetes

If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you probably know it’s important to eat a healthy diet and exercise. But, do you know how much exercise you need and why it’s so important? In this blog, Madhav Devani, MD, at Ross Bridge Medical Center, in Hoover, Alabama, explains the benefits of exercise and how much you need.

Why is exercise important for diabetics?

Exercise is important for everyone, but for those living with diabetes, exercise plays an important part in managing blood sugar. When you exercise, your body can use insulin better, which means the sugar in your bloodstream will be able to get into the cells of your muscles better. In turn, this will lower the level of sugar in your blood. Over time, exercise can even lower your A1c level.

Exercise can also improve your heart health, lower your risk for stroke, and help you manage your weight. So, by adding exercise to your weekly routine, you can be healthier overall.

What kind of exercising should I do?

Before starting any exercise program, it’s important to talk with your doctor. Once you know it’s safe, remember to take it easy. For example, don’t try to go from the couch to running five miles in a week. Here are some exercise recommendations from the American Diabetes Association:

Strength training

You can use your bodyweight to build strength, such as by doing pushups, pullups, squats, lunges, abdominal crunches, or step-ups. You can also use weight machines or free weights. Whatever you do, start slowly. If you do abdominal crunches, for example, start with a few and do more over time. Try to engage in strength training at least twice a week.

Aerobic or cardio

Try doing aerobic or cardio exercise, such as walking, jogging, biking, or swimming. Again, start slowly, but, over time, try to get to 150 minutes or more of activity each week.


Sometimes, insulin or certain diabetes medications can cause low blood sugar. Check your blood sugar before exercising and adjust your carbohydrate intake if needed. You should also check your blood sugar during and after exercising. Stop exercising immediately if you feel shaky or weak. If you need to, eat some hard candy or drink some fruit juice.

Also, let someone know where you’re going, and always carry a phone and medical identification with you. That way you can exercise with peace of mind.

You may also want to test the ketone levels in your urine before exercising. Ketones are usually made when there is an insulin deficiency. If you have ketones in your blood, you shouldn’t exercise, because it could lead to ketoacidosis, a condition in which you could have nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

If you’re diabetic and want to learn more about exercising, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center today.


Our goal is for you to leave our office with a memorable and enjoyable experience, which is why our welcoming and compassionate staff will do everything they can to make you feel right at home.

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