Using Exercise to Help Manage Blood Sugar

There are a lot of misconceptions about diabetes and exercise. Some people will say that exercise isn’t a great idea, due to the fact that blood sugar levels will fluctuate during the activity. Others will say that low-intensity exercise helps to fight obesity a good result for diabetics. There’s also people who advocate weight training for the metabolic benefits that lean muscle mass have on a person’s metabolism.

The answer, as you might expect, lies somewhere in the middle. The key to using exercise for managing blood sugar levels is to combine muscle-building activities with cardiovascular exercise in a sensible way. Here are some of the best ways to accomplish that. However, always be sure to monitor blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercise and avoid working out when levels are dangerous.

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Circuit Training

Circuit training involves the use of weighted exercise in conjunction with high-intensity aerobics. Basically, by moving through a series of weighted movements with only short pauses, your heart rate remains elevated while working your muscles. The result is an exercise session that is shorter than a typical weight training routine, as well as increased fat burning throughout.

It’s easier for diabetics to maintain their blood sugar levels during a 20-30 minute circuit training session than it is for a 60 minute run. Also, while muscle gains will not be as rapid as they would with focused weight training, muscle mass is added over time when circuit training. In this way, circuit training combines everything a diabetic needs from a routine.


Cardiovascular exercise is good for everyone. However, lengthy rides and jogs can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels. As a result, many diabetics have avoided cardiovascular routines leading to increased weight and decreased insulin sensitivity. Swimming is a great way to avoid some of the drawbacks of extended cardiovascular exercise while adding a muscle-building component.

When you swim, you engage your entire body, including your core. This is not the case with running and cycling. Also, when swimming in a lap pool, it’s very easy to take a quick break and test your blood sugar if needed. That’s why so many diabetics have turned to regular pool sessions to meet their long-term exercise needs.


Yoga involves the holding of various balance poses in a specific sequence. While this might sound simple, the physical demands place on the body in both flexibility and strength are significant. Advanced practitioners enjoy a significant amount of body coordination and overall fitness.

The major advantage of yoga to a diabetic is that there is almost no cardiovascular demand involved. Because of this, exercisers can develop muscle tone, flexibility, and fitness without excessive blood sugar fluctuation. On top of that, yoga has been shown to reduce a person’s overall stress level, which is always a good thing regardless of your medical condition.

There is really no compelling reason for diabetics to avoid exercise as a result of their condition. While it is true that blood sugar is more of an issue during an exercise session, the benefits of exercise are simply too important for diabetics to miss. By selecting appropriate exercises, though, there is no reason that victims of diabetes can’t maintain a high level of physical fitness.