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Healtheuniversity > English > Diabetes College > Get Active > Exercising with Health Issues

Exercise with Health Issues

Everyone can exercise. It is never too late to start. Talk to your doctor and exercise team to make sure your program is safe for you if you have the health issues listed below.

Loss of feeling in your feet
Eye problems

Get your exercise on a stationary (exercise) bike if you have poor eyesight.  

  • Have your eye pressure checked by your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will check for glaucoma and ensure it is safe for you to exercise.  
  • If you have retinopathy, avoid resistance training. Resistance training can make your retinopathy worse. Discuss your exercise program with your eye doctor.
An amputation or physical limitation from a stroke
Knee, back or shoulder pain or injury

If you suffer from knee, back or shoulder pain, you can still exercise. It is important that you perform exercises with the correct technique. Technique is the way you do your exercise.

  • The exercises using your injured body part can be changed or avoided.
  • Only do exercises that do not cause any pain.
  • Do exercises in a position that feels right for you.

Talk to your physiotherapist or exercise team to find exercises for your specific needs.


Exercise and movement of the joints help improve arthritis pain.

It is important to progress your exercise slowly.

  • See how you feel 1 to 2 days after an exercise session. Listen to your body.
  • If you have joint pain, stop your exercise and take a rest day. Try your exercise again the next day.
Charcot's foot

Charcot's foot is a condition that weakens the bones in your feet.

  • Avoid activity that you do not need to do. You can do many resistance training exercises sitting in a chair.
  • Use a stationary (exercise) bike or an arm ergometer for exercise.
  • Talk to your exercise team for help.
Dialysis appointments due to chronic kidney disease

A good time to exercise will vary if you have dialysis throughout the week. It will depend on your symptoms and your energy level.

  • Start with small sessions of exercise. Try 5 to 10 minutes of exercise at a level that feels right to you.
  • Talk to your doctor or your exercise team for help.
Heart disease and stable angina

If you have heart disease, speak with your doctor before you start an exercise program.

Angina is symptoms that occur when your heart does not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of angina include:

  • chest pain
  • chest tightness
  • arm pain
  • jaw pain
  • back pain between your shoulders
  • shortness of breath

Stable angina is angina symptoms at a known intensity level of exercise.

  • Keep your exercise below this level to avoid angina symptoms.
  • Talk to your exercise team about the right level of exercise for you.
  • Have your nitroglycerine with you while you exercise.
  • Know what to do if you have angina symptoms while exercising.
  • Slow your exercise pace and stop exercising.
  • Take your angina medicine as prescribed.

If your symptoms do not resolve, get immediate medical attention. If you live in Ontario, call 911.

Visit the Cardiac College™ website for more detailed information about heart disease »

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or breathing problems

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease that causes restricted air flow to your lungs.

With COPD, shortness of breath will limit your exercise. Your exercise depends on the how much your lungs are affected.

  • Exercise at a level where your breathing feels right. Stay within this level.
  • Start with small sessions of exercise, about 5 to 10 minutes long.
  • Talk to your doctor or exercise team for help.
Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016