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I really hate to exercise. What are some ways to manage my diabetes without exercise?

I wish I could tell you otherwise, but exercise is vital to managing your diabetes and staying healthy. There’s no way around it – but it doesn’t have to be torture! One way to sustain momentum is to make sure there’s enough pleasure in your life while you take the time and effort to build new exercise habits. Also, think small at first: try increasing your level of physical activity gradually in your daily routine: climb stairs, park a bit farther away from the door, etc.

To motivate you, think about all the amazing benefits that being active offers (to everyone, but especially people with diabetes). It can:

  1. lower blood glucose and blood pressure
  2. lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol
  3. improve your body’s ability to use insulin
  4. lower your risk for heart disease and stroke
  5. keep your heart and bones strong
  6. keep your joints flexible
  7. lower your risk of falling
  8. help you lose weight
  9. reduce your body fat
  10. give you more energy
  11. reduce your stress levels


Very small changes in your weight can have an enormously positive impact in your metabolic status. You don’t have to lose enough weight to get into your prom dress.

Being active and losing weight are both valuable. So if you become more active and aren’t losing weight, your body may still be benefitting; the same goes for losing weight without being active. Remember, though, that if weight loss is your goal, you must make diet changes, too.

Here are four kinds of physical activity that can help:

  1. Being extra active every day
  2. Doing aerobic exercise
  3. Doing strength training
  4. Stretching
  1. Getting started
    1. Always consider where you’re starting off. Take into account your current level of fitness and activity. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor.
    2. Start with modest goals, then work your way up. Exercise does not have to be all or nothing – this kind of thinking can keep you from getting started. Free yourself from the illusion of “doing it perfectly” and do something active this week.
    3. Experiment and find something you like to do. Try activities you’ve enjoyed in the past as well as totally different kinds of exercise. Make realistic goals of how many times a week you want to exercise, not necessarily hours or miles per day.
  2. Breaking old habits
    1. When it seems like we have behaved a certain way “forever,” it can be hard to envision how anything could ever be different. Build on times in your past when you made a big change: a move from one home or job to another, how you celebrate a holiday, simple changes in your appearance, like a new haircut or style. It’s likely that you got used to the change gradually, not all at once. You were flexible then, and you can be flexible now.
    2. Make it a game! For example, you could call it “walk across America” and add up your miles to reach a certain city or state. Join a walking group at the mall, join a team sport, try a fun dance class.
    3. Keep track of your exercise. Not only will this log be a great tool for communicating with your doctor, it will also remind you of the successes you’ve had and encourage you to keep going.
  3. When exercising, ALWAYS
    1. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
    2. Start slowly, then increase a little at a time.
    3. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and athletic socks. Foot problems are common in people with diabetes, so watch for blisters, red marks, or calluses.
    4. Check your blood sugar before and after you work out.
    5. Warm up before and cool down after being active.
    6. Wear your medical identification or other ID.
    7. Know the signs of low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia. Always carry food or glucose tablets to treat low blood glucose.

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