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Exercising Without Injury

“Exercise is the best medicine,” says Jacqueline Shahar, MEd, RCEP, CDE, a certified diabetes educator and manager of exercise physiology in the Joslin Clinic. “It is like a pill that helps your diabetes.”

Who Should Exercise

Some people with diabetes who have arthritis or other medical complications might worry at first that exercise will make their problems worse. But no matter your size or shape, whether you’ve never exercised or are already active, everyone can benefit from an  exercise plan.

Exercise Benefits

  • Increased muscle strength, endurance and tone
  • Increased bone mass
  • Improved blood glucose control
  • Daily activities get easier
  • Improved quality of life and mental outlook

‘When you start exercising, your muscles wake up,” explains Shahar. “Train the muscles and they start burning more calories from glucose and stored fat.”

Something for Everyone with Diabetes

Those who are sedentary can start doing strengthening exercises on a chair using water bottles then progress to free weights and resistance bands. There are also exercise machines you usewhile seated. Walking in a pool is a low-impact alternative to walking outside. These options reduce stress on your knees and back and allow you to exercise without injury.

Those already active can add interval and circuit training to improve stamina, strength, diabetes control, and to promote weight loss.

What starts as hard work can become enjoyable. You may even find you can cut back on insulin or oral medications. “I’ve seen this happen many times in the Why WAIT? Program,” says Shahar. "Exercise soon becomes your new lifestyle—an active lifestyle."

You can find books and CDs about diabetes and exercise in the Joslin Online Store.  

Physical Activity & Fitness, part of the Staying Healthy with Diabetes Series.  

 Buy this book

Keep Moving! ...Keep Healthy with Diabetes.  

 Buy this CD

Page last updated: September 18, 2019