If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably recommended weight loss as a means of lessening symptoms and reducing the risk of complications. And we all know that, in addition to diet, exercise is a great way to shed pounds, add lean muscle mass and improve virtually every area of health and wellness. However, as a diabetic, it’s important to fully understand your illness, as well as how exercise will affect your symptoms. Keep reading for everything you need to know about getting in shape with diabetes, including information on which exercises you should avoid, and which ones you can use to reduce symptoms and enhance health, appearance and quality of life.


Getting Started

Before beginning an exercise regimen, it’s important to understand your unique needs as far as your illness is concerned. Diabetes affects patients in vastly different ways, so an awareness of any specific symptoms or complications you may be experiencing is essential. For example, complications like nerve pain, numbness and vision loss should be taken into consideration before starting a workout routine.

Next, close monitoring of your condition is also crucial in protecting health and preventing injury. Keep a close watch on your blood glucose, and pay attention to how exercise affects your sugar levels. For added convenience, compact monitors like the Glucose Sensor from Dexcom are small, yet powerful, and are easily transported to the gym, on walks or wherever your fitness plans may take you.

Lastly, since many diabetics experience nerve damage in the feet, wearing the proper footwear is extremely important. Cotton socks are a must, as are shoes that are not only well-fitting, but designed for the specific activity on your agenda.


Exercises to Avoid

If you are in the early stages of your illness, you should be able to carry out most any exercise, safely and effectively. However, if you’re experiencing complications or can’t seem to get symptoms under control, you may want to avoid workouts like the following:

  • Heavy lifting. While strength training can be an effective way to burn calories and build muscle mass, too much heavy lifting should be avoided.
  • High-impact exercise. Since high-impact workouts like running, tennis and plyometrics may be hard on the feet, legs and joints, they may not be the best fit for individuals with diabetes.


Exercises to Enjoy

As long as your doctor gives you the green light, feel free to enjoy workouts like the following:

  • Light strength-training. As far as weight goes, you should feel resistance but shouldn’t have to strain.
  • Walking. Walking is a great exercise, and is suited to most any fitness level. For added benefit, try picking up the pace every few minutes, then returning to your normal speed.
  • Yoga. Yoga is not only a great way to lose weight and build strength: it may also help keep the symptoms of diabetes in check! Be sure to start out with classes for beginners, and make sure your instructor is aware of your condition and any other health problems you may be facing.
  • Swimming. Swimming is low-impact cardiovascular exercise, which means it burns calories without causing undue stress to the body. What’s more, swimming is a great workout for building strength and endurance, as well as tacking on lean muscle mass.
  • Dancing and aerobics. These workouts are fun, effective and keep your fitness routine fresh and inviting. Check your local gym for classes, or just get moving in the privacy of your own home!


Now that you have all the information you need on diabetes and exercise, you’re free to get started on your workout routine. For added benefits, be sure to pair your exercise regimen with a balanced, diabetic-friendly diet, which will amp up energy, promote weight loss and keep your body in top working condition.