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Module 4
The Role of Exercise in Controlling Weight and Blood Sugar

Exercise is another big part of your diabetes management. Even if you maintain a perfect diet, without exercise you will miss out on a ton of health benefits. There are 3 basic types of exercise: 

  • General physical activity 

  • Aerobic exercise 

  • Resistance exercise 


General physical activity is any light activity you do throughout the day. This includes: 

  • Walking 

  • Gardening 

  • Cleaning 

  • Cooking 


Make sure to avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you have an office job, or have to sit for a long time for any reason, try to get up and take a 5 minute walk every 30 minutes or so. 


Aerobic exercise is an exercise that will raise your heart rate for the duration of the exercise. Examples of aerobic exercise include: 

  • Faster walking 

  • Jogging 

  • Swimming 

  • Cycling 


The best exercise to start with is walking. You may start with just 10 minutes at a time, but it is important to start. As you get more and more fit, you can move on to exercises such as jogging and cycling. 


Resistance exercise is an exercise designed to grow your muscle. Examples of resistance exercises include: 

  • Lifting weight 

  • Resistance bands 

  • Weight machines in the gym 


Resistance exercise can be dangerous, especially if you’re using too much weight. Always start with the lowest weight you have and practice the movement before increasing your weight. 



Your goal for exercise should be 150 minutes per week. However, don’t worry if you can’t manage that at first. Even small successes can turn into big successes!  

  • Pick an activity you enjoy and start with small goals, such as “I will take 3 10-minute walks this week” 

  • “Start low and go slow.” Slowly increase the amount of time you are active, the amount of days you are active, and the intensity of your activity. 



Dangers: Exercise can be especially dangerous for diabetes patients if done incorrectly. Exercise will use up the sugar in your bloodstream and increase your risk of low blood sugar. You must eat properly based on the exercise you are performing. 

  • Do not skip meals. 

  • Make sure to bring a snack in case you develop signs/symptoms of low blood sugar. (dizziness, fatigue)  

  • If you are taking insulin, schedule your injections around your exercise. 


There are many forms of exercise, and all forms are important in their own ways. The best exercise, especially in the beginning, is walking. Exercise as much as you can until you reach the goal of 150 minutes per week.  


As always, consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise plan. They will be able to help you with exercises and scheduling meals/insulin. 

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