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Diabetes and physical activity

Diabetes is a condition that causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to become too high. It is a serious condition if not looked after but it is very treatable. The way you live your life can make a huge difference to treatment.

How physical activity can help

Being active helps treat diabetes and protect your health.

Physical activity can help you:

  • control your blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • lower your blood pressure
  • improve your cholesterol
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • improve your circulation
  • lower your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • have more energy
  • sleep better
  • improve your muscle strength
  • improve your mood and reduce depression
  • have healthier bones

How much activity you should do

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least 5 days a week.

If you are not regularly active, start with 10 minutes at a time of exercise every day. You can then gradually increase the amount of time you are active.

Check with your GP before you start becoming more active. They can help you set realistic goals that take account of your level of fitness, symptoms and medicines.

Being active with type 1 diabetes

You can still exercise and do the sport you enjoy if you have type 1 diabetes. You may need to take precautions to stay safe during and after exercise. But being active has lots of benefits for managing and treating type 1 diabetes.

Exercising with type 1 diabetes

Being active with type 2 diabetes

Physical activity is important for managing and treating type 2 diabetes. Being active can lower your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Being active with type 2 diabetes

HSE exercise videos

These videos were designed by HSE physiotherapists for people with chronic conditions, including diabetes.

Try these 10-minute exercise videos on YouTube:

45-minute exercise videos on YouTube:

Page last reviewed: 14 February 2023
Next review due: 14 February 2026