The Best Exercises for Diabetics in 2023

Alexie Collin

Chris Stocker

Chris Stocker

Owner and author of The Life of a Diabetic. He's been writing about Diabetes related topics for over 10 years, and has been featured in HealthLine, Diatribe, Diabetes Advocates and JDRF.. He's been writing about Diabetes related topics for over 10 years, and has been featured in HealthLine, Diatribe, Diabetes Advocates and JDRF.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2023

Diabetes is a growing problem across the globe, which is evident from the latest report from the World Health Organization. The cases of diabetes among adults increased by 3.8% from 1980 to 2020, and by then there were a recorded 422 million diabetics.

This worrying number of patients is taking its toll, most notably on the healthcare industry. Here in the U.S., Maryville University reports that “healthcare professionals make up 9% of the entire national workforce”. A big portion of this population provides support for diabetics, seeing as there are now over 100 million people suffering from diabetes or prediabetes, according to the CDC.

In other words, the disease has reached epidemic proportions both in the U.S. and across the world.  Now with this being said, Diabetes isn’t necessarily a death sentence.  The majority of those living with Diabetes are extremely healthy, and we’d argue are some of the most health conscious people on the planet.

What You Can Do?

Weight gain is one of its most common side effects, especially for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. The insulin that regulates the absorption of glucose into the cells makes it easier for cells to store fat. It also makes it harder for diabetics to find the right amount of calories to eat and control their weight. Just a little bit of indulging can tip the scales significantly.  Figuring out your diet with diabetes can be extremely difficult at first.

It’s a tough cycle to be stuck in because weight management is vital to the treatment plan for diabetes, and exercise goes hand in hand with proper nutrition. But of course, it’s also not impossible. Exercising regularly will help curb your appetite, thus minimizing the amount of fat the body stores. It also aids in regulating blood sugar levels and helps you develop healthier habits that boost your overall well being.

Most primary Doctors or Endocrinologists will agree that eating properly, and exercising regularly will be beneficial to controlling Diabetes.  Everyone’s body is different, so there will be some guess and check involved initially.  One thing we all can agree on, there most certainly is a fitness activity that everyone will enjoy.

Simple and Best Exercises for Diabetes That You Can Try:


Walking and jogging are great because they directly target cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure, which are linked to diabetes. Researchers from the World Journal of Diabetes state that cardiovascular disease is the “most prevalent cause of mortality and morbidity” among diabetics. This means that addressing the cardiovascular conditions associated with it is vital to extending their life expectancy.

However, not everyone can lace up their sneakers and just start running. This is what makes walking so simple—almost everyone can do it even for just a few minutes. When you’re just starting out, try and keep your goals small and attainable.

The first six to eight weeks can be dedicated to brisk walking for 20-30 minutes, which is already a big step-up for many people. You don’t have to walk at an Olympic pace. Walking a little bit faster than you normally do is enough. Gradually build up the duration every few days or weeks, say, adding five minutes after the first week; or increase your speed.

If you have dogs, make it a point to walk with them every day. Or listen to a podcast as you go out so you don’t get bored too easily. These little tricks make it easier for you to stick to a regular routine, which is what it should be all about.  Walking your dog is a great way to ‘kill two birds’ with one stone!


Swimming is another form of cardio, but it’s much lighter on your joints. The thing about being overweight is that it puts a lot of pressure on the skeleton and damages the joints overtime. If you experience pain in your knees, for example, walking might not be the best idea but swimming can be a good alternative. It’s a low impact exercise because the water helps carry your weight as you move. You won’t sweat while you’re submerged in the pool but it still has the same effect, which is to strengthen your heart and lungs.

To get started, try swimming for one lap and then taking a minute-long rest before going for another lap. Standard pools are typically 25 meters in length. You might need to modify this according to your fitness and swimming ability. As you progress, you can reduce your resting time or swim for longer.  Please make sure to start with ‘easier’ workouts.  Don’t go too hard at first.

Tai Chi

When you have trouble managing your weight as an effect of diabetes, you start to feel as if you have no control over your body. You lose coordination and grace.

To avoid this, you can try Tai chi. this ancient martial art originated in China, and it is widely recognized for its health benefits. It actually has a lot of similarities with yoga, which was previously discussed here on Diabetes Life Solutions. The poses improve strength and flexibility while still being very gentle on the joints. Transitions are slow and controlled, which can be great for preventing falls, especially among diabetics who are in their senior years. This is also considered as one of the best exercise for diabetics.

There’s also an added emphasis on breathing. Turning your attention towards your breathing can be very calming.  We like to think of this type of exercise to be part mental, similar to how Yoga is about relaxing the mind.

It’s best to take classes to learn about the techniques because Tai chi practitioners don’t just invent their own movements. You can also try to look for instructional videos and build your own practice from there. Since there are no discernible negative effects, you can practice it every morning to condition your joints before you take on your day head on.

Resistance Training

There’s a common misconception that resistance training isn’t very effective when it comes to weight loss, but it is actually better for burning unwanted fat. And for diabetics, the benefits even go beyond weight management. New York-based health education manager Sherin Joseph stressed that lifting weights boosts metabolism which regulates blood sugar levels. The muscles contribute to insulin sensitivity as they become more efficient in storing glucose.

Like any other exercise, weight training should also be a gradual build-up when it comes to the number of reps, sets, and load. You can incorporate strength training three times a week too, focusing on different muscle groups every session. For instance, you can work on your chest, back and core on Mondays, lower body on Wednesdays, and shoulders and arms on Fridays. However, it is important that you always give your body enough time to recover to reduce the risk of injury.

These are some of the best exercises for diabetes.

Exercising Can Help Improve Life Insurance Rates

What if we told you, that you may receive lower, or discounted life insurance rates with diabetes, by simply being active and exercising on a regular basis. Would this motivate you? In most instances, yes it would! Who in their right mind would want to over pay for life insurance coverage?

Multiple life insurance providers that we work with here at Diabetes Life Solutions, may offer rates 3% to 12% lower, by simply showing an insurance company that you are exercising on a regular basis, and doing your best to live a healthy life style. Other insurance carriers may be able to make a better life insurance offer, which would put you in a better health classification. The better your life insurance rating, the lower your premiums will be. Generally, both term life insurance, and whole life insurance policies may be subject to these discounted rates, assuming you meet the companies underwriting guidelines. To discuss, please contact us at 888-629-3064. We’d love to visit with you, about your unique situation. There are lots of tips and tricks we can share, before applying for life insurance with Diabetes.

When applying for life insurance, you will want to make sure that you are able to present your health profile, and control of your Diabetes in the best possible way. Companies are no longer simply going to look at your A1C reading, or your most recent glucose levels. Rather, they want to make sure you are compliant in your Diabetes treatment, watching your diet, and hopefully implementing best exercise for diabetes into your daily routine. Studies have shown that those with Diabetes, and who exercise regularly, will exhibit better control of their Diabetes.

Working out can be a life-saving habit for people of the diabetes community, so if you haven’t done it yet, now’s the best time to start.  Find an activity that you enjoy, and setup a regular fitness regimen.  Not only will you feel better about yourself, but chances are, your diabetes control will improve!  There are countless types of exercises or sports you can participate in.  Please remember to participate in activities that you enjoy!

Alexie Collin, is a dedicated yogi, having practiced various forms of yoga and Tai-Chi for over 10 years. Her love for the ancient practice has taken her to India and Sri Lanka where she learned under the tutelage of local masters.

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