Diabetes and exercise guidelines

According to the American Diabetes Association in 2022, 130 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes. Americans age 65 and older that number was 29.2% with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes

Type 1 – Juvenile diabetes

Type 2 – Hyperglycemia (Insulin resistance)

There are a number of factors that must be taken into account when exercising with diabetes. Everything from proper foot care to monitoring your blood sugar before and after exercising. Aside from working with a personal trainer to help structure your workouts specifically for your health condition, you may also want to consider working with a dietitian to help you create and manage your food choices.

Exercise creates an “insulin effect.” Meaning that exercise helps your body increase your body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is possible to create a double insulin effect, by the combination of taking your insulin and exercising. By checking your blood sugar levels before and after you exercise will help you understand how your exercise routine and intensity is effecting your bodies ability to absorb insulin and sugar.

Goal should be daily or near daily activity

If blood sugar is above 240 and there is ketones in your urine – do not exercise

Inspect your feet (Check between toes/ Trim nails)

If your blood sugar is below 100 before you exercise, you may want to have a small snack before starting your exercise program.

Wear absorbent socks

Have snack available to you at all times in case your blood sugar levels drop too much during or after exercising

Make sure you replace your carbohydrate levels within 30 min post exercise

Don’t start any exercise program until you talk to your doctor. Exercises that may be good for one person may not be right for you.

Improve health and function

Increase stamina

Monitor blood sugar levels to learn what level of intensity is proper for your specific fitness condition.

Aerobics – Start slowly, spend first few minutes gradually building up your pace and intensity

Weight lifting – Warm up and start with light weight and high reps. Make sure you have good range of motion.

Start with big muscle groups when exercising.

Try working out in ten minute segments and see how you feel; especially if you have not exercised in a while.

Exercise Frequency 4-6x a week

Exercise Intensity 40%- 80% Max Heart Rate

Exercise Duration – 20-60 minutes

Walking or aquatics

Strength Training
2-3x a week / 10-15 reps per set / 1-3 Sets

Start with just body weight and progress to machines

goal setting


Flexibility2-3x a week

Stretch to the point of tension

10-30 seconds

Static hold