Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Resources for People Living with Diabetes

Being Active

Being active includes all the ways you move your body and decrease the time you spend sitting. If you have diabetes, it can also help keep your blood glucose closer to ideal target levels and reduce or prevent health issues now and in the future.

Being active is an important part of staying healthy. It gets your heart rate up, uses up calories, and strengthens your muscles and bones. Best of all, being active can help you:

  • Lose body fat
  • Get more fit
  • Boost muscle strength and aerobic endurance
  • Lower blood glucose
  • Enhance your mood
  • Improve blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Feel less stressed or anxious
  • Reduce your chances of dying early

If you’re already active, great – just think about moving more all day long to rev up your metabolism. If you are inactive and out of shape now, you have the most to gain by moving even a little more. Take small steps to add more movement into your daily lifestyle. In time, you will find that you are feeling better and ready to do even more.

Any amount of physical activity is better than none at all. Making physical activity part of your daily lifestyle uses up calories even if it’s not part of a structured exercise plan; so, get creative!

Next, start thinking about an activity plan. Focus on activities that you enjoy and can find a way to do. There are many things that get your heart rate up and burn calories.  Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Choose your favorite activities. Think of things YOU like to do, that way you’re more likely to keep doing them.
  • Take it slow. Start with five or 10 minutes of the activity and work your way up to 30 minutes at a time, five days a week (or more, if you can).
  • Don’t overdo it! While you exercise, you should be able to talk, but not sing.
  • Check your blood glucose. Do so before and after exercise to confirm what you’re doing is helping. 
  • Keep track of your activity. This will help you feel good about yourself and progress.
  • Find a friend to exercise with. You can keep each other going.
  • Take a class. Consider checking out classes at the park district or health club, perhaps something you’ve always wanted to try, such as salsa dancing, yoga or tennis.
  • Join an adult league. Play a sport you enjoy, anything from basketball to badminton.

Whatever you do, make sure you mix it up. Try a few different things so you don’t get bored. If you have health issues, you should discuss with your healthcare team how they affect your ability to increase your activity level and if there are any activities you need to avoid. Your diabetes care and education specialist can help you problem solve to find what works for you.

Finding the motivation and energy to be active may be more difficult if you are having difficulty coping with the demands of your condition. Be sure to let your healthcare team know if you need more support to reach your goals.

You can also download a tip sheet on being active – including how to increase activity safely and how to fit activity into your daily life here: 

English Version

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Spanish Version

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Living with Diabetes