6 Top Diabetics Exercises for People Who Have High Sugar


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Bajaj Finserv Health


4 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Staying healthy with diabetes is a challenge a lot of people face
  • When diabetics exercise, they can easily manage diabetes syndromes
  • People with type 2 or type 1 diabetes can walk, swim or cycle

Exercise boosts your health. It also offers many surprising benefits for diabetic patients. With regular workouts, you can

All these play a major role in managing your diabetes. Thus, for all types of diabetics, exercise offers added benefits. If you have diabetes, exercise may lower your blood glucose levels and boost your body’s sensitivity to insulin [1]. Read on to know how to stay healthy with diabetes by doing the following workouts.

Additional Read: A Guide to 4 Kinds of Diabetes and Other Types of Blood Sugar Tests

What are the precautions you must take while exercising with type 2 diabetes?

Exercise can lower your risk of acquiring Type 2 diabetes or assist you in managing it. People with Type 2 diabetes may benefit from a fitness programme combining strength training and aerobics regarding their blood sugar levels and general health.

Depending on your goals and present health, your training programme will change. Therefore, seeing your doctor before beginning a new programme is wise. For example, those with type 2 diabetes should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week. But if you're like many recently diagnosed type 2 diabetics, you probably haven't worked out in a while.

What are the recommended exercises for diabetes?


When doctors meet with diabetics, exercise is often part of the discussion. Walking is one of the most prescribed exercises for people with type 2 diabetes. Walking is easy for you as you don’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment. All you need is a supportive pair of shoes and a place to walk. Go for a brisk 30-minute walk five days a week. It will help you reach the recommended goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. Walking helps lower blood pressure levels and lose weight in people with type 2 diabetes.


If you are diabetic and have joint pain, opt for low-impact exercises such as cycling. With it, you can reduce the strain on your joints and meet your fitness goals. You can hit the road on a cycle or use a stationary bicycle. Try to cycle for at least 30 minutes a day 3 and 5 times a week. This will help you fight diabetes by increasing your heart rate, reducing your blood sugar, and putting a check on weight gain. This aerobic exercise makes your heart stronger, improves lungs health, and burns calories. A study conducted in 2021 including 7459 adults with type 2 or type 1 diabetes found that cycling lowers the risk of mortality in people with diabetes [2].

Food for diabetics


Swimming helps stretch and relax your muscles. It doesn’t put much strain on your joints. This is why it is a great exercise for people with diabetes. If you are a diabetic, swimming is a total body workout for you. Studies report that it lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress levels, and burns calories [3]. Swim for at least 10 minutes 3 times a week.

Wear water shoes in the pool as type 2 diabetes can lead to foot complications like neuropathy. In this health condition, you may experience loss of feeling in your feet, so it is better to take preventive measures. Let the lifeguard know you have diabetes before getting into the swimming pool. A study reported that aquatic exercise works similarly to land-based exercise in lowering blood glucose levels [4].


Losing muscle mass makes it hard to maintain your blood sugar levels. This is why diabetics exercise for longer durations. But you can avoid this as weightlifting helps you build your muscles. Weight or strength training also helps you in burning calories, maintaining your weight, and making your muscles and bones stronger. Incorporate weightlifting in your weekly exercise routine at least twice a week. You can do this exercise at home by lifting canned goods or water bottles, and doing push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges. Ask a trainer or join classes to learn how to lift weights safely and effectively.

Resistance Bands Training

You can utilise other equipment in addition to weights to build your muscles as well. Resistance bands can also be used for a wide range of strengthening exercises. Speak to a certified trainer, attend a resistance band class, or watch an exercise video to discover how to use them in your routines.

Team Sports

Joining a recreational sports team could be beneficial if you struggle to find the motivation to exercise. You could find the drive to come in each week thanks to the chance to interact with your teammates and your commitment to them.

Several recreational sports provide a good aerobic workout. For example, try playing ultimate frisbee, basketball, soccer, softball, couples' tennis, or other sports.

Aerobic Dancing

You could also be able to achieve your workout objectives by enrolling in an aerobic dance or other fitness class. For instance, the fitness programme Zumba blends aerobic and dance moves for brisk exercise.

According to a study, taking 16 weeks of Zumba lessons increased the fitness motivation of women with type 2 diabetes. Along with losing weight, participants increased their aerobic fitness.


With callisthenics, you can build muscle strength by using your own body weight. Push-ups, pullups, squats, lunges, and stomach crunches are examples of common callisthenics exercises. Try to work out each of your body's primary muscle groups, whether you decide to use weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight. Experts advise taking a day off from muscle-strengthening exercises between each strength training session to give your body time to heal.


A traditional approach to wellness, yoga offers low-impact exercises that help you build flexibility, strength, and balance. With yoga, you can improve your nerve function and lower your stress. Thus, it can boost your mental state and wellness. It can further control your blood sugar levels. A 2016 review revealed that people with diabetes can manage their blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight by doing yoga [5]. Yoga may also improve your sleep and mood, and lower your blood pressure. Studies have even found that such exercises can reduce symptoms of depression in people with type 2 diabetes.


Pilates is a well-liked exercise regimen that aims to boost balance, coordination, and core strength. A 2020 study on older adult women with type 2 diabetes suggests that it might also help with blood sugar regulation. Attending a Pilates class at your neighbourhood gym or Pilates studio can be a good idea. There is also a tonne of instructive books and videos on the same.

Tai chi

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that relaxes the mind and body with slow and smooth body movements. It uses controlled movements along with visualization and deep breathing. This Chinese art helps with strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility. A meta-analysis published in 2018 concluded that tai chi effectively helps manage blood glucose and HbA1c levels in people with type-2 diabetes [6]. This exercise can lower stress levels and prevent nerve damage in your feet too.

Additional Read: 8 Best Green Vegetables for Diabetics to Add to Their Diet

For diabetics, exercise is a must, but workouts of high intensity are a no when your blood sugar is high. So, keep this in mind as you plan your workouts. If you have type 2 or type 1 diabetes and experience symptoms like breathlessness, dizziness, or light-headedness, stop your exercise and talk to a doctor. Talk to a specialist to get a list of exercises as per your health conditions. You can consult with the best doctors on Bajaj Finserv Health. This way, you can get proper guidance on the best foods for diabetics and other related queries too. If you want to protect yourself from diabetes you can avail diabetes health insurance.


Which exercises reduce blood sugar?

You can control your blood sugar levels and keep diabetes under control by increasing your level of activity. Keep in mind that after engaging in strenuous exercise, blood sugar levels may occasionally rise momentarily.

  • Walking

People with type 2 diabetes who walk can reduce their body mass index, blood pressure, and HbA1c levels.

  • Aquatic exercises

Diabetic patients might find joint-friendly workouts helpful, and their go-to choice might be aquatic activity. Swimming, water aerobics, aqua jogging, and other aquatic exercises, for instance, can work your heart, lungs, and muscles while being relatively easy on your joints.

  • Strength and resistance training

To develop muscle strength, perform quick, repetitive exercises with weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight. Pick about six to eight exercises that work for the body's main muscular groups. For example, a 2018 study found that resistance band training can boost your strength and significantly affect blood sugar regulation.[1]

Can exercise reduce diabetes?

  • Exercises like slow cycling, light walking, and other low-impact activities can be beneficial and can reduce the blood sugar
  • Exercise can enhance your overall blood sugar. It aids you in maintaining your weight as well reduces the risk of heart diseases such as stroke
  • Diabetes patients need to ensure precautions while exercising. They must monitor their blood sugar levels prior to, during, and after physical activity 

What are the best leg exercises for people with diabetes?

To start moving, you don't require a gym membership or pricey exercise gear. These are the exercises you can start with:

  • Walking

You can begin right away if you have a secure area to walk and a pair of supportive shoes. Walking briskly for 30 minutes five days a week can achieve your recommended minimum goal for aerobic fitness

  • Cycling

Consider a low-impact activity if you experience lower joint aches. For instance, cycling can help you achieve your fitness objectives while putting the least amount of stress on your joints.

  • Swimming

While putting a little strain on your joints, swimming, water aerobics, aqua jogging, and other aquatic exercises can work out your heart, lungs, and muscles.

How much walking per day is good for people with diabetes?

If you have Type 2 diabetes, brisk walking exercises can help keep your blood sugar and weight stable. It is advised to take a 30-minute stroll at least five days a week.

What exercises should people with diabetes avoid?

For people with diabetes with uncontrolled blood sugars, uncontrolled hypertension, moderate to severe heart disease, and comorbidities such as peripheral neuropathy, it is advised to avoid strenuous, high-intensity, isometric workouts. 

Additionally, head-down exercises should be avoided by persons who have retinopathy. Exercise that is performed repeatedly on sensitive feet might fracture and cause ulcers. Blood glucose must be monitored prior to, after, and sometimes even during physical exercise to check if the blood glucose levels are within the recommended range.

Published on 6 Dec 2021Last updated on 13 Apr 2023
  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-exercise-when-you-have-diabetes
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2784676
  3. https://www.informationaboutdiabetes.com/articles/diet-and-nutrition/the-health-benefits-of-swimming-for-diabetics
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28691156/
  5. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jdr/2016/6979370/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6079589/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846677/

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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