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How to Start Doing Exercise

Low to moderate exercise is safe and can help you manage your diabetes. There are things you should do before you start doing an exercise program.

  • Ask your family doctor if you need further testing before starting an exercise program.
  • Start with 10 minutes of exercise each day. Add another 5 to 10 minutes every few weeks.
  • Start with an exercise you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle.
  • Be sure to check your blood sugar before and after you exercise so you can find out how exercise impacts your blood sugar.

Tell your doctor before you start to exercise. Low to moderate exercise is safe and can help you manage your diabetes.

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Exercise Plan

Below is a list of health issues that may mean you need to plan your exercise with your doctor. If anything on the list applies to you, talk to your family doctor. You will need further testing before you can start your exercise program.

  • I have pain or discomfort in my chest, neck, upper back, jaw or arms.
  • I am short of breath at rest or with mild exercise.
  • I feel dizzy or have fainted.
  • I am awake in the night feeling short of breath.
  • I feel short of breath when I lie down and sitting up helps.
  • My ankles are swollen.
  • My heart skips beats or races.
  • I have a heart problem.
  • I take medicine(s) for my heart.
  • I have pain in my lower leg(s) when I walk.
  • I have a heart murmur.
  • I feel tired or short of breath just doing normal things like taking out the garbage.
  • I want to do intense exercise. But, I get breathless when I do intense exercises such as jogging, weight training, hockey or soccer.

How Can I Schedule Exercise?

  1. Look at your week ahead to find time to do exercise.
  2. Schedule times you could set aside to do exercise. Start with a 10 minute block.
  3. Every few weeks add 5 to 10 minutes to your exercise time.
  4. Increase the amount of time you do exercise to 30 to 60 minutes total most days of the week.

Large amounts of time are sometimes hard to find in your schedule. It may help to do 10 minutes of exercise at a time. Do 10 minutes of exercise three or more times through the day.

Once you schedule routine exercise you will find it helps you take action. 

What Happens to My Blood Sugar When I Do Exercise?

Your blood sugar will change when you do exercise. Your blood sugar tells you how your body reacts to doing exercise.

  1. Record your blood sugar before and after doing exercise for the first five sessions.
  2. Notice your blood sugar patterns and be able to plan ahead in case of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Doing exercise is a great way to lower your blood sugar. Many people are pleased to notice how much it can lower their blood sugar. Your blood sugar can become too low if you combine exercise with certain diabetes medicines. Talk to your doctor before you start doing exercise.

Note: If you are prescribed insulin or a medicine from the Secretagogue class of medicines you are at risk for low blood sugar. Find out more about exercise and low blood sugar »

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) happens when your blood sugar is less than 4 mmol/L or you have the signs of low blood sugar (such as feeling shaky, easy to bother or difficulty concentrating). Have a fast-acting carbohydrate with you, such as sugar (glucose) tablets, juice or pop. Drink or eat this carbohydrate if your blood sugar is low.

What Exercise Should I Start With?

Start with an exercise you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle.

There are many types of exercise you can do. Some types of exercises include:

Each exercise is good for your body in different ways. Do different types of exercise to create a well-rounded exercise program.

Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016