Get Active

Key points

  • Regular physical activity is key to helping manage your blood sugar.
  • You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to get the benefits.
  • Start with a clear goal, like taking a 10-minute walk after dinner.
Smiling senior man swimmer wearing goggles

Why it matters

One of the most important things that you can do for your health is to get regular physical activity. There are so many benefits, from sleeping better to feeling happier. Regular physical activity can also help you:

  • Lose or maintain your weight.
  • Improve your memory.
  • Manage your blood pressure.
  • Lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Physical activity is a foundation of diabetes management. It helps you manage blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart disease and other complications.

Break down the barriers

Don't talk yourself out of physical activity before you start. Here are a few ideas to help you get moving.

You can start slowly

You don't have to spend hours at the gym. The goal is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week.

One way to reach that goal is to be active for 30 minutes on most days. You could start with a 10-minute walk after dinner and build up slowly. Or you could start with exercises to increase your strength and stability.

Be sure to check with your doctor about which activities are best for you. Also ask if there are any you should avoid.

You can lower your blood sugar

Check your blood sugar before and after you take a walk, and you'll likely see a lower number after.

You can do it for free

Walk during lunch or dance to some tunes at home. Or find a free online workout—there are so many to choose from!

Small changes can make a difference

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Play with your kids outside. Get up and move around during commercials when you watch TV.

Plan your active life

People who are active usually follow a plan or a routine to keep them on track. These ideas can help you get started:

couple carrying tennis rackets
Whether in person or virtually, working out with a friend makes your workout more fun.

Be specific

Pick a goal that's clear, one you can reach and easily measure. Examples: walk a mile every day or be active every weekday for 30 minutes.

Start small

Depending on your fitness, that may mean taking the stairs more often, doing yard work, or walking the dog. Take it slowly. Every step is one more than you did before—and a step in the right direction.

Find something you like

Seriously, this is important ... or you won't keep doing it. Make physical activity fun, whether it's yoga, a scenic bike ride, or playing with your kids. A "workout" doesn't have to feel like work—and doesn't have to be in a gym.

Partner up

Whether it's in person or virtually, working out with a friend makes your workout more fun. And you can hold each other accountable if you're tempted to skip it.

Make it a habit

Schedule physical activity into your daily routine. Walk every day during lunch or walk with your family after dinner. The more regular you are, the quicker it will become a habit. Don't go more than 2 days in a row without being active, and you'll keep your new habit going strong.

Measure your progress

Whether you use an app, activity tracker, or paper, tracking your progress lets you see how far you've come. Then you can celebrate your successes!

Our bodies are made to move, and we feel better when they do. Just make sure to check with your doctor before starting any new or more difficult activity.