The Diabetes Fitness Plan: What is the Best Exercise for Diabetics?

Diabetes Fitness Plan

Want to improve your health with Type 2 diabetes? Try this fun and easy diabetes fitness plan from!

Following a diabetes fitness plan is an essential part of managing Type 2 diabetes. If you have been diagnosed as having prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, a program of regular exercise can significantly improve your health and even reduce or eliminate your need for insulin. The American Diabetes Association recommends increasing your physical activity level every day and actively exercising 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. Making sure you achieve the recommended amount of physical activity can be difficult, particularly if you are not used to exercising. That is why experts recommend creating and following a diabetes fitness plan in order to get the best results.

The benefits of a diabetes fitness plan

Following a diabetes fitness plan offers significant health benefits that are extremely important for anyone with diabetes. Exercising burns glucose and improves your body’s response to insulin.  Increasing your physical activity level as recommended also offers the following benefits:

The best exercise for diabetics

If you are wondering what is the best exercise for diabetics, it is actually a combination of exercise types. As reported in Time magazine, a study led by researchers at the University of Calgary and the University of Ottawa found that patients with Type 2 diabetes who engaged in a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training achieved lower blood glucose levels than patients that performed only one type of exercise. While all participants who exercised achieved better blood glucose control, performing the combination of exercises resulted in a nearly 1% lower A1C reading, which translates to a 15% to 20% decrease in the risk of heart attack or stroke and a 25% to 40% lower risk of contracting diabetes-related eye or kidney disease.

Your diabetes fitness plan

In order to be effective, a diabetic exercise program should include four types of physical activities:

  • Daily activities – increases stamina and energy
  • Aerobic exercise – improves heart health and endurance
  • Strength training – strengthens muscles and bones
  • Stretching and balance exercises – increases flexibility, stability, and muscle tone

Daily activities

What: Engage in physical activity of some kind. Walk around while on the phone, work in the garden, take the stairs, or play with your dog

When: Every day

How long: Every 90 minutes throughout the entire day

Aerobic exercise

What: Exercise that increases your heart rate, such as swimming, dancing, biking, or brisk walking

When: Five days a week

How long: start at 10 minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes

Back-up plan (in case of bad weather): Go walking in the mall or use a stationary bike

Strength training

What: Lift light weights and work with resistance bands, join a strength training class, or use weight machines at a fitness center

When: Three times a week

How long: 30 minutes, or 3 sessions of 10 minutes

Flexibility exercises

What: Gentle stretching, back kicks, touching toes, or chair yoga

When: Before or after exercising, after sitting, when waking or before bed

How long: 5 or 10 minutes. Hold stretches steady for 5-15 seconds without bouncing

Before starting this or any diabetic exercise plan, you should consult your health provider. Check your blood glucose levels before and after exercising, and keep some healthy, diabetic-friendly snacks on hand. For more help with managing and living with diabetes, turn to You will find tons of diabetic-friendly recipes, snack suggestions, and lifestyle tips for managing diabetes that will help you enjoy a healthier future.



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