Best Exercises to Control Blood Sugar- Diabetes Exercise Guide

best exercises to control diabetes

There are many exercises to control diabetes and lower blood sugar. You can easily incorporate these workouts and exercises to control diabetes and blood sugar in your daily routine, [1].

The question is, “Are you doing enough and sufficient exercises to control diabetes and blood sugar or diabetes”? We are quite sure that your answer is a big no!

More importantly, this is all the truer for diabetics. According to studies barely 39% of diabetics take part in a regular physical activity. This figure is strikingly low when compared with 58% of other Americans. And this is a matter of grave concern as diabetics need exercises more than anybody else does. Exercising improves the action of insulin and keeps blood sugar levels in control. In this article, we have discussed some exercises to control diabetes and lower blood sugar

Table of Contents

Benefits of exercising


Exercise helps in losing weight and keeping you more balanced, as type 2 diabetics have greater chances of having obesity and more likelihood of experiencing falls.
It is recommended that diabetics above the age of 40 should do

i) balance training (once a week)
ii) simple exercises of balancing (daily)
iii) Tai chi exercises (complex balancing exercises).
iv) Core resistance exercises

If you are diabetic, exercise gives you surprising benefits.
But before you start with any type of exercises to control diabetes and lower blood sugar, make sure that you speak to your doctor and do it slowly in the starting. With time you can increase the intensity and time of your workouts.

Again, how much exercise do you need? The NIH (National Institute of Health) recommends around 150 minutes of exercise for people with diabetes. The importance of exercises to control diabetes and lower blood sugar can be understood from the fact that diabetics are advised not to miss exercise for two consecutive days in a row.
Below are some examples of exercises to control diabets and lower blood sugar:

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Brisk Walking

Walking is an easy bet. You just need a pair of shoes and some place to walk. Walking is a highly prescribed activity for people with diabetes[2]. Brisk walking that raises the heart rate is particularly beneficial. Studies show that people reap positive benefits when they participate in exercises at least three days a week for a period of 150 minutes. Walking exercises are great to control diabetes and blood sugar. Brisk walking can help you maintain a steady weight and appropriate blood sugar levels.

The goal is to walk at a pace of 3 to 4 miles per hour. You will need to protect your feet from sores and blisters. Do not wear cotton socks and rather opt for diabetic socks which are made from polyester. Wear fitness T shirt and shorts. Get your foot properly checked. You may be unable to feel blisters and hot spots which may turn into ulcer if left untreated.

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Tai Chi

This form of exercise done in a slow and relaxed manner has been performed for centuries. It is basically a traditional Chinese exercise for mind and body which has intricate sequences of exercise. A study[3]has even confirmed that it is a great form of exercise for diabetics. It is an all in one solution as it makes you fit and also reduces stress levels.

Further, it enhances balance and decreases nerve damage which is an associated diabetic complication. Diabetic Neuropathy happens as a result of nerve damage to making the person immobile and not being able to balance properly. It is important to work on your balance if you want to live independently throughout your life. If you don’t want to do tai chi, you must incorporate some other balancing exercises in your routine.


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Weight Training

We cannot stress enough on the benefits of weight training not only for diabetics but also for normal people. Experts say that weight training builds muscle mass which is important for people who have diabetes[4]. In case you lose muscle mass, you have a harder time managing and maintaining the levels of your blood sugar.

Do resistance exercise or weight training at least two times a week. Ideal frequency is three and it is important to schedule a rest day between workouts. Every session should have a five to ten lifting which involves the major muscle groups. For adequate gains in strength, do three to four sets of exercise with 10-15 repetitions each.

Weight training is one of the best things you can do for your body. In diabetics, weight training can help the body to respond better to insulin and boost the utilization of insulin. It also aids in weight loss and decreases the chances of heart disease.

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A lot of studies out there prove that yoga can help you manage diabetes. It decreases the body fat, improves the working of nerves, fights insulin resistance which is important when you have diabetes.

Like Tai chi, yoga also reduces stress. Your blood sugar levels are directly proportional to increase in stress. Also, an advantage of yoga is that you can do it as much and as often as you want. The more the better. Yoga decreases depressive symptoms in people with type 2 diabetes. Thus, regular practice of yoga can decrease and is helpful in controlling the blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and keep weight in check[5]. It also decreases the chances of other complications that are associated with diabetes.

Yoga works through the alternation between various asanas or poses which contract some areas of the abdomen and certain others which relax those areas. This stimulates the pancreas leading to increase in blood and oxygen supply. This boosts the ability of the organs for producing insulin. The breathing exercises in yoga also work similarly for stimulating the function of the pancreas.

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It is an aerobic exercise and great for people with type 2 diabetes. This is because it does not pressurize the joints. Also, swimming is not tough on your feet like walking or jogging are. Swimming is a great exercise with constant motion helping blood and oxygen to be pumped more effectively. It makes use of both upper and lower body so this is beneficial for people who have diabetic neuropathy.

Intensity depends on the motivation for swimming and beginners must be cautious as they may get attacks of hypoglycemia. So, swimming is a great physical activity for people with diabetes.

Swimming also improves cardiovascular fitness. It is important as diabetics are at greater risk for heart disease than others. Swimming provides strength to all the muscles in the body which helps in managing diabetes. While exercising, muscle cells absorb blood sugar more efficiently. Swimming controls weight which is an important consideration for diabetes.

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Bicycling/Stationary Cycling

It is a type of aerobic exercise which works to make your lungs function better and also gives you a stronger heart. Stationary bicycling is appropriate for diabetics as you can do it indoors [6]. So, you don’t really need to worry about the weather, or falling and traveling a long distance. The blood flow to the legs gets improved when you bicycle. And this is huge benefit for diabetics. It also helps you manage your weight at optimum levels. Basically, when we cycle, our muscles consume glucose and then the blood sugar levels fall.

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It is great for your body. For people having diabetes, it is an exciting way to increase physical activity, boost flexibility, help in weight loss and decrease stress. Experts point out that any form of dance helps in insulin resistance and also improve glucose management.

Dance helps build muscle strength and bone density. Diabetes is related to increased risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. It has been found that people having diabetes have greater chances of experiencing fractures of hip, foot and joint as compared to people without diabetes. When bone is strengthened through regular exercise, osteoporosis gets delayed or can get prevented.

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Moderate to Heavy Gardening

Gardening is a stress-free way to get your quota of daily workout. It is believed to burn 250-500 calories in an hour. So, three hours of gardening is equal to one hour of gym session. Gym may not be for everyone but exercise is highly important for diabetes prevention. You can actually scale out the intensity of your gardening session. For example, if you suspect that you could get hypoglycemic you can adjust the intensity that is start off slow and slowly work your way up to a comfortable enough level.

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Stair Climbing

It is a form of exercise that has a positive and powerful effect on health with time. Everyday activities like stair climbing and walking are associated with improved health. Stair climbing is a recommended activity because it has been shown by studies that climbing barely eight flights of stairs cuts down the mortality risk by 33%.

Around seven minutes of stair climbing can reduce the risk of heart attack by half over a period of 10 years. About two minutes of stair climbing prevents weight gain[7]. These factors are all associated with diabetes. So, stair climbing is one of the vigorous forms of exercises to control diabetes and lower blood sugar. Stair climbing improves the strength of heart and lungs and improves their function resulting in overall endurance.

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When you have diabetes, you must learn ways to control your blood sugar levels. When you get your blood sugar levels in control you will be able to prevent serious complications. So, there is more to it than just following a balanced diet that is low in sugar and is carb free. You have to focus on exercises for controlling blood sugar. 150 minutes of exercise will help you keep your blood sugar levels in optimal range. Exercise can actually reverse diabetes. You may not even need to take medications for the better part of your life. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself. You need to do exercises that are light on your feet and joints and will help you build muscles. You are more susceptible to injury when you are new to exercise.

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