Diabetes and Exercise

Exercise and improving your fitness is imperative when it comes to controlling your blood sugar. Diabetes and exercise are like peanut butter and jelly in my book. They just work better together!

To understand this further I’m going to give you a short physiology lesson. Think of muscles like an engine in your car. They do most of the work to burn calories and keep you moving strong. And just like any engine needs fuel to make it go, your muscles need ‘fuel’ to make them move. That fuel is preferably carbohydrate (glucose), but also fats.

During exercise the demand for fuel increases. When fuel is not on board you will not work as hard and you may even feel lethargic.

Studio Classes without Studio Prices at 24 Hour Fitness!


Muscles has special receptors on their outer layer, like doors, that allow glucose to pass from the bloodstream to the muscle. These doors do not open unless they are unlocked by insulin (the key). The good news is that exercise has an insulin-like effect, making insulin work better in your body; thus, think of exercise as invisible insulin. During bouts of activity, the doors swing open easily, allowing more and more glucose to enter the muscle to be burned up for energy.

Sounds easy enough right? It’s never too late to reap the benefits of exercise – no matter how old you are.

When I was trying to lose weight but literally had no energy, exercise was the last thing on my mind. I thought a short stroll around the block was good enough. There are different types of exercise and we all should really be getting a variety.

Diabetes and Exercise: The Best Exercises to Lower Blood Sugars

Aerobic Activity – running, dancing, brisk walking (a pace where you are slightly out of breath and you wouldn’t be able to sing a song), swimming, Zumba, cycling…etc

  • This should be done at least 5 days per week. Minimum 30 minutes per day for heart health and 45-60+ minutes per day for weight loss.
  • Start slow. No one said you have to be the ‘rabbit’ – start with 10 minute increments and increase weekly.

Multi Generation Family Running Across Field Together

Strength Training – kettle bells, weight lifting, free weights or machines, Body pump classes or anything that requires weights

  • Minimum twice weekly. Aim for 30-45 minutes. Start with light weights and increase weekly for strength.
  • Don’t you dare be intimidated by weights. They will not make you ‘bulky’ – not unless you want them to in which you diet plays a big role in this.

Steel gray weights on gym floor

Stretching – yoga, pilates, tai chi, barre, ballet

  • Start out with trying something new twice weekly. Light stretching should be done after each workout routine.

Four girls practicing yoga, Virabhadrasana / Warrior pose

You must also be aware of exercise-induced hypoglycemia. If you are on any medication or holistic supplement that is known to lower your blood sugar, adding exercise into the mix can cause dangerously low levels of blood glucose.

I advise you to always check you blood sugar before exercise. You may need a small snack to prevent your blood sugar from dropping too low.

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear your feedback. Send me a comment below and I’ll get back to you. I love hearing what works for you and maybe you can help inspire someone else with your story.

Read more here on FITNESS and why it’s important for you.

Free Pass