Being active with diabetes

Being active makes your body more sensitive to insulin, helps control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart disease and nerve damage.

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To avoid potential problems, you should check your blood sugar before, during and after exercise.   

  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week or a total of 150 minutes per week. Spread your activity out over at least 3 days during the week and try not to go more than 2 days in a row without exercising. Use My Activity planner to plan and keep track of your progress

If you’re starting out, begin with 5 or 10 minutes a day, and increase your sessions by a few minutes each week. Try taking a brisk 10 minute walk after each meal, for example

  • Aerobic activities such as brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, tennis and running are all good options, so why not try something new? You’ll knowyou're working at a moderate intensity if you can still talk, but can't sing the words to a song
  • If you need to lose weight to help manage type 2 diabetes, then you may benefit from doing high-intensity interval training or HIIT. This combines low-to-moderate intensity intervals with high-intensity intervals, and can be applied to exercises such as running or cycling
  • Making activity social can be a great way of sticking to it regularly. You could start a walking club, get gardening, play tennis or join a dance class
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Hand weights but cans of food work as well
  • For diabetes, greater health benefits are gained from doing a combination of aerobic and resistance training with weights, because resistance training makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose
  • Aim to do activity which improves muscle strength on at least two days per week. You could try signing up to a gym class that involves strength training, or start by lifting light weights like canned goods or water bottles at home
  • You don’t just have to lift weights to build muscles; exercises such as sit-ups, lunges, planks and pull-ups will also be beneficial, and can even be done at home

 

If you’re still not sure where to start, a physiotherapist can assess you and work with you to create a weekly activity plan

You can download this page for future reference.