For a diabetes patient, physical exertion is important. The patient must adopt physical exertion and regular exercise as a part of the daily routine.

Benefits of exercise

  • Helps in maintaining glucose and fats levels in blood
  • Helps in reducing dosage of medicines and insulin
  • Enhances efficiency of heart and lungs
  • Reduces weight
  • Provides mental peace and enables sound sleep

Precautions before beginning exercise regimen

Diabetes patients can do any type of exercise like a normal person. But hap hazardous exercise may cause harm. However, before starting an exercise programme — especially after 40 years of age — it is necessary to have a complete physical check-up done by a specialist doctor. Sometimes, upon the detection of high sugar levels, people immediately start an exercise programme to lower their blood sugar. There is a risk of damage by doing so. Exercise should be started once the blood sugar level is normalized.

Moreover, it is very important to have investigations related to heart disease, high blood/ pressure, kidney disease, and retina. Also, get yourself examined to find out how is blood circulation in lower limb vessels. If you have any wounds, cuts or numbness, get these treated first, before initiating exercise.

As far as possible, you should exercise early in the morning, when you are starved, stomach is clear, body and mind are fresh and the air is clean. But if you cannot find time in the morning, exercise at any time of the day — two hours after having a meal.

What kind of exercises can diabetics do?

Diabetes patients should engage in aerobic exercises (e.g. walking, running, swimming, cycling or gardening).

If you are much aged, have a heavy body or arthritis in the legs, it is advisable to go for a walk at slow pace. Walking briskly may make you short of breath and jogging may cause pain the joints. You can use a stationary cycle.

If it is impossible to walk or cycle due to arthritis in legs, you can still exercise other joints by sitting at one place.

The physically healthy and young patients can play games of their choice e.g. kabaddi, hockey, football, tennis etc.

How much exercise should be done?

Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, five days a week. Exercise should be done regularly and according to physical ability. The duration and intensity should be gradually increased. The beginning and completion of exercise must be done slowly. Avoid exercising on a full stomach. Do not bathe immediately after exercise.

Often homemakers are heard saying, “We do household work the whole day so can’t we avoid doing additional exercise?” Although homemakers remain busy doing household work throughout the day, they do not get necessary exercise. Therefore, they must spare at least 30 minutes from household routines and go for a walk.

While doing exercise, sugary or sweet items must be kept handy. If the sugar level drops during or after exercise, the sweet can be consumed immediately.

What if, in unavoidable circumstances, exercise can’t be done?

It is advisable to exercise four to five days a week. In case you can’t exercise on some day, than on that day:

  • Avoid using the elevator; try to climb slowly as many stairs as possible
  • Park your car or scooter at some distance from your destination and walk
  • If you travel by bus, alight one stop before your destination and walk the remaining distance
  • Play with kids at home

This way you can do a lot of exercise without much specific effort

Remember the good old days when men worked in farms, women cared for animals, ran manual grinding mills, prepare chattni on stone, carry food to the farm, fetched water from wells or rivers, and walked four to six miles without much thought. All these were physical exercises. Young ones played games like kabaddi, gulli danda, and kho-kho.

In these days of comforts, daily physical labour has been rendered minimal. A car or a scooter has become a necessity. Spare time is spent sitting before television or computer. This has resulted in a drastic reduction of physical labour, which plays a very significant role in increasing weight, and excessive weight is the root cause of future illnesses. Therefore, adopt physical exercise as a part of daily routine.

False Belief: I don’t get time, when should I do exercise?

REMEMBER – While doing exercise, if you experience excessive tiredness, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath or chest pain, stop the exercise immediately and consult your doctor.


The following table contains energy (in calories) expended on different activities.

Daily activities Per minute calories usage Activities of amusement Per minute Calories usage
Lie down and relax 1.0 Paint while sitting 2.0
Sit 1.2 Drive a car 2.8
Stand 1.4 Slow horse riding 3.0
Walk on tar road (3.5 miles/hour) 5.6 Rapid horse riding 8.0
Climb an ascending (5-15%) slope (3.5 miles/hour) 8-15 Play volleyball 3.5
Bowl 4.4
Climb down a descending (5-10%) slope


15-20% (2.5 miles/hour)





Ride a motorcycle 3.4
Cycle (5-15 miles/hour) 5-12
Play golf 5.0

at 5 miles/hour

at 7.5 miles/hour

at 10 miles/hour

at 12 miles/hour






Dance 5.5
Garden 5.6
Swim for pleasure 6.0
Swim rapidly (25-50 yards/minute) 6.0-12.5
Butterfly stroke (50 yards/minute) 14.6
Eat 1.4 Back Stroke (25-50 yards/minute) 6.0-12.5
Converse (Talking) 1.4 Breast Stroke (15-50 yards/minute) 6.0-12.5
Change clothes 2.3 Side Stroke (40 yards/minute) 11.0
Wash hands or face 2.5 Play Tennis 7.1
Bathe 4.2 Skate 9.9
Take the stairs down 5.2 Play table-tennis 4.9-7.0
Climb up stairs 10.0-18.0 Play badminton 5-8
    Play basketball 8-11


Household activities   Professional Activities  
Stitch with hands 1.4 Type 2.5
Sweep 1.7 Stitch on sewing machine 2.9
Polish furniture 2.4 Masonry work 4.0
Clean and dust 2.9 Plastering 4.1
Wash small clothes 3.0 Farming – operate a plough 6.7
Mop floor 4.9 Farming – operate a tractor 4.2
Spread bed 3.9 Carpentry 6.8
Fetch water 4.2 Weed grass with hand 7.3
Dry clothes 4.5 Work with a spade 8.0
Iron in standing position 4.2 Work on a furnace 10.2


This information will be useful to you in planning an exercise programme.


  1. Avoid physical exercise after taking insulin.
  2. If diabetes is not under control or you have excessive sugar in blood, avoid physical exercise.


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