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Top 10 Exercises for People with Diabetes: Empower Your Fitness Journey

Published on: Sep 25, 2023
6 min Read
The Best Exercises for Managing Diabetes
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If you sweat it today, you can smile tomorrow! Exercise for people with diabetes can be the ultimate game-changer in the long run.

Together with the right diet, medical advice, and a disciplined lifestyle, you can manage diabetes and overall fitness like a pro. Stay with us to discuss the top 10 exercises for people with diabetes.

A 2021 study stated that there were about 77 million people with diabetes in India in 2019, and the numbers are projected to rise to 134 million by 2045.

These concerning figures demand swift action at the grassroots level to empower all type 2 diabetes patients to manage their condition effectively at home. Exercise and physical activities can help with this.

10 Exercises for People With Diabetes

1. Walking

Walking Exercises for Managing Diabetes

There is no second thought about the health benefits of regular, brisk walks. This involves rhythmic, fast-paced walking, not a stroll.

Walking boosts all the muscles of the body and blood circulation. This helps the muscles use the blood glucose better, enhances insulin action and sensitivity, and helps with weight management.

Opt for a 30-45 minute brisk walk daily in the morning or evenings at home or a nearby park to keep yourself fit. 

2. Breathing Exercises

Breathing Exercises for Managing Diabetes

Deep breathing exercises increase the supply of oxygen to every cell in the body. This is vital for people with diabetes, as their blood supply is compromised.

High blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes damage the walls of many blood vessels, preventing blood flow and leading to complications such as diabetes foot. A better oxygen supply through breathing techniques can help control the problem.

Moreover, stress is harmful for people with diabetes. Breathing exercises also help to calm your mind, body, and soul and are excellent stress relievers. 

You can try the following common techniques and see the results for yourself:

  • Belly breathing technique
  • Alternate nostril (pranayama) method
  • Box breathing

3. Gentle stretches

Neck Stretches

The benefits of stretching go beyond diabetes; they are an easy yet effective solution to staying fit. They improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and help blood circulation.

It helps control diabetes by improving overall mobility and reducing the risk of muscle injuries, which is particularly important for people suffering from diabetes-related complications like neuropathies.

Some of the easiest stretches include:

  • Neck Stretches
  • Shoulder Rolls
  • Calf Stretches
  • Quadriceps or Front-thigh Stretches
  • Forward Bend Stretch
  • Ankle Circles
  • Wrist Rotations

4. Free-hand Light Exercises

Lying leg raise exercise

A good set of stretches should always follow free-hand exercises. They include low-intensity body weight exercises that need no equipment and can be easily done at home. They help boost blood flow, muscle mobility, glucose use, and insulin activity.

Some basic free-hand exercises for people with diabetes are:

  • Stand arches
  • Toe-touching
  • Torso twists
  • Arm circles
  • Wall push-ups
  • Lying leg raises

5. Chair Exercises

Seated Body Twists exercise

A basic form of workout for those who work long hours, have musculoskeletal issues or are just starting on their journey to stay fit. You can do these chair exercises anytime and anywhere!

These include:

  • Seated Marches
  • Seated Leg Raises
  • Seated Body Twists
  • Chair Squats
  • Seated Arm Circles

6. Strength Training

Bicep curls with weights exercise

After light exercises, people with diabetes should progress to strength or resistance training exercises. These include high-intensity workouts against resistance, such as weights and resistance bands. 

Strength training improves muscle strength, bone density, and heart health. Together, these improve blood circulation, oxygen supply, weight management, cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular efficiency.

Here are some resistance training exercises to get you started:

  • Bicep curls and tricep presses with weights
  • Leg presses 
  • Knee-opening or clamshells with a resistance band
  • Squats with bands
  • Deadlifts and bench presses with dumbells

It is advisable to start your strength training journey under personal guidance from an expert trainer. This can prevent unnecessary injuries and keep you fit in the process. 

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7. Yoga

Cobra pose yoga exercise

Yoga, the oldest and perhaps the only holistic approach to staying fit, is a physical and mental workout that involves exercises, breathing techniques, and meditation. Integral to exercises for type 2 diabetes, here are a few yoga poses that may help you:

  • Sun salutations (Surya namaskar)
  • Child pose
  • Tree pose
  • Cobra pose
  • Pranayama
  • Meditation

Incorporate yoga into your regular lifestyle to help curb the impending issues of type 2 diabetes.

8. Cycling

Cycling exercise

Cycling is a fun, full-body aerobic exercise that gets your heart rushing.  It keeps you agile and energised, controls weight, and boosts heart health and insulin use in the body. You can consider walking up to the nearest store or simply cycling there!

9. Swimming


For all the water babies, swimming is an absolute delight! A quick swim in the summer can suffice for a good workout at the gym. It is a low-impact aerobic workout that is simple to perform and helps control type 2 diabetes. It boosts insulin sensitivity, decreases blood sugar levels, and improves cardiovascular health. 

10. Aerobic Dancing 

Aerobic Dancing exercise

One of the fun and dynamic exercises for people with diabetes includes dancing! Just turn on the music and feel the beats. Dance forms like Zumba, hip-hop, salsa, etc., get your blood rushing, activate every muscle in the body, and get the happy hormones flowing.

How Does Exercise Help People With Diabetes? 

Exercises for people with diabetes are useful in many ways:

1. Lowers Blood Sugar: The active muscles use glucose better, thereby boosting sugar uptake, insulin sensitivity, weight management, and reducing insulin resistance.

2. Weight Management: Exercises help shed those extra kilos.

3. Reduced Cholesterol: Physical activities decrease bad lipids by helping fat digestion and lipid breakdown in the body.

4. Better heart health and liver conditions: Controlled blood sugar, lipid, and weight levels eventually lessen inflammation in the body, keeping the vital organs healthy.

5. Stress release: exercises boost the happy hormones and relieve stress, anxiety, and tension, which are essential to healing type 2 diabetes.

How Often Should You Exercise if You Have Type 2 Diabetes? 

Well, come to think of it, you should do some form of physical activity every day! This could be anything from simple breathing techniques and a quick swim to strength training. However, do not overdo it! 

For those with type 2 diabetes, follow the expert opinion of your diabetologist and physical therapist to know the ideal workout schedule. It is advisable to rest after strength training or an intense miscellaneous workout session. This allows your muscles to heal, repair, and regenerate. 


Exercises for people with diabetes alone cannot help you heal. A comprehensive workout regimen, in addition to a planned diet and a disciplined lifestyle, is the best way to curb diabetes at its fundamental level. 

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Consider consulting our expert diabetologists and dieticians onboard Fitterfly’s Diabetes Care Program to know how to go about your workouts better.

Without much adieu, speak with us by just dialing a missed call at 08069450746, and we will definitely get back to you. Together, let us make the journey towards healing from diabetes more healthy and enjoyable. 


This blog provides general information for educational and informational purposes only and shouldn't be seen as professional advice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which Exercise Will Help to Cure Diabetes?

Exercise alone cannot cure diabetes. A complete workout with a balanced diet and physician-monitored medications can help keep type 2 diabetes in check. Light exercises, accompanied by strength training and yoga, maybe a good start.

Can Exercise Reverse Diabetes?

Some patients with type 2 diabetes may be able to achieve remission, which is defined by normalised blood sugar levels, with the help of exercise and a balanced diet. It might not entirely "reverse" the condition, though.

Why is Exercise Important for People With Diabetes?

For people with type 2 diabetes, exercise is essential because it improves insulin sensitivity, controls weight, lowers cardiovascular risk, and improves general health and fitness.

Does Exercise Help Blood Sugar?

Yes, exercise is an essential part of managing diabetes since it enhances insulin sensitivity and promotes the metabolism of glucose in cells.

- By Fitterfly Health-Team

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