(Note: Consult your doctor before you begin to determine what type of exercise program is best for you.)

Your food and exercise selections for managing your diabetes should reflect your individual needs and preferences. You can choose from a variety of exercises, such as aerobics, strength training, and flexibility.

Aim for a goal of exercising five days a week for at least 30 minutes, either in one continuous session or in short spurts throughout the day. This routine can make a tangible difference in your disease as well as how you look and feel. You might find it helpful to work with an exercise physiologist who will design a program for you.

  • Pick activities you enjoy. Think of physical activities that you like to do and can stick with over time. You don`t need to spend money on special equipment or join a fancy health club. Just get out and walk! If you have been inactive, walking makes a good choice. Start with three 10-minute walks a week and increase the length and frequency of your walks over time. Or try biking or swimming. Consider a variety of activities (both indoor and outdoor) that you can do in both good and bad weather.
  • Find ways to stay motivated and make exercise more rewarding. You might want to exercise with a partner or join an exercise group or gym. Many gyms offer classes geared to beginners. Some organizations offer exercise support groups; for example, the American Diabetes Association offers an online walking support group and step tracker, Club Ped.
  • Try using a pedometer (a simple inexpensive device that clips on your clothes) to measure your steps and chart your progress. America on the Move, a fitness advocacy group, recommends 10,000 steps or five miles a day of total walking. You can measure the number of steps you take in an average week and keep increasing your steps until you reach a number that`s right for you. In general, follow the 10 percent rule: increase your workout by only 10 percent per week. That means if you walk one mile one week, walk an additional 1/10 mile the next.
  • Be consistent: as a homeostatic "machine," your body adapts to your everyday routine. So the more inactive you become, the more your body wants to stay put. Once you get more active, your body adjusts and craves activity. You reap the rewards by feeling more energetic when you exercise, which provides the drive to keep moving!

Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13