What Exercises are Safe for People with Type 2 Diabetes?

What Exercises are Safe for People with Type 2 Diabetes?

Engaging in regular exercise is not only beneficial for maintaining physical fitness but also plays a vital role in managing type 2 diabetes. If you’re suffering from this condition, here are some exercises you can do:


Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking each day. You can walk in place, stroll down the hallway, climb stairs, or hop on a treadmill.


Regular yoga practice has been shown to prevent diabetes complications and regulate blood sugar levels. Choose yoga styles that are safe for people with diabetes and always listen to your body.


Several small studies have suggested that Pilates can improve blood sugar control and quality-of-life factors such as fatigue and pain in women with type 2 diabetes.


You can do ballet, Zumba, or other dance workouts at the gym or even at home. A study done in 2015 revealed that taking Zumba classes increased exercise motivation and weight loss in women with type 2 diabetes.

Bicycle or Elliptical Machine

Those with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, making these low-impact machines particularly beneficial. Some fitness machines even offer online classes to recreate the gym experience in the comfort of your own home.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Research has shown that HIIT improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. However, due to its intensity, it may not be suitable for everyone with diabetes or certain health conditions.


While stretching may not directly affect blood sugar control, it plays a crucial role in maintaining joint flexibility, which is especially important for individuals with arthritis and diabetes.

Resistance Training

It may help improve blood sugar control, insulin resistance, blood pressure, and body composition. You can utilize light weights, resistance bands, or even your own body weight (e.g., planks) to perform resistance exercises.

Getting Started

If you have been inactive for a long time, you need to see your doctor before getting started with exercise.  This is so that you can safely engage in physical activity without compromising your health. If you’re going to a gym like Gold’s Gym or Fitness First, you may want to hire a personal trainer to help you get started. Also keep in mind these tips:

  • Start gradually. Perhaps you can do 10 minutes of walking every day on your first week. Gradually increase the time, resistance, and intensity as you become fitter and stronger.
  • Wear appropriate footwear. Supportive sneakers with cushioning are essential for exercise.
  • If you have proliferative diabetic retinopathy, avoid exercises that involve jumping, breath-holding, or inverted poses where your head is below your body.
  • Always warm up and stretch. Doing so prepares your body and minimizes the risk of injury.

Here’s a fun warm up routine shared by Chloe Ting:

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