Tips for exercising when you have prediabetes
If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you have an opportunity to prevent the progression of this condition to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that by getting regular exercise, changing your diet, and losing weight, you can play a key role in preventing diabetes. Any type of physical activity may be beneficial, such as:1, 2, 3
- Sports or other types of exercise, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or biking.
- Household work, such as vacuuming or gardening.
- Work-related activities.
Experts say to do either of these things for exercise:4
- Moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or ballroom dancing. But any activities—including daily chores—that raise your heart rate can be included. You notice your heart beating faster with this kind of activity.
- Vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week. One way to do this is to be active 25 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. Vigorous activity means things like jogging, cycling fast, or cross-country skiing. You breathe rapidly and your heart beats much faster with this kind of activity.
It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
The National Diabetes Education Program's Small Steps Big Rewards program outlines several ways to make minor adjustments to your lifestyle that can have a big impact on preventing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. These include setting goals for moderate weight loss and exercise and tracking your progress. For example, your goal might be to:
- Walk 30 minutes per day.
- Bicycle to work 3 days per week.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
For more information about the Small Steps Big Rewards program, visit the National Diabetes Education Program Web site at http://www.ndep.nih.gov/.
Before starting an exercise program
- Talk to your health professional about how and when to exercise. You may need to have a medical exam and special tests (such as a treadmill test) before you begin.
- Choose a type of exercise that you like and that fits easily into your daily schedule. If you choose something you like, you will be more likely to continue the program.
- Drink extra liquids before and during exercise to prevent dehydration.
- Don't exercise if you are sick or injured or the weather is very hot or very cold.
- Choose the best time and place to exercise. A poorly lit street with uneven pavement would not be a good choice.
- Wear shoes that fit well and polyester or blend (cotton-polyester) socks to keep your feet comfortable and prevent injury. Use silica gel or air midsoles in your shoes to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
For more information, see the topic Fitness.
- Lindstrom J, et al. (2003). The Finnish diabetes prevention study (DPS): Lifestyle intervention and 3-year results on diet and physical activity. Diabetes Care, 26(12): 3230–3236.
- Lindstrom J, et al. (2003). Prevention of diabetes mellitus in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance in the Finnish diabetes prevention study: Results from a randomized trial. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 14(7, Suppl 2): S108–S113.
- Tuomilehto J, et al. (2001). Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. New England Journal of Medicine, 344(18): 1343–1350.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf.
Last Updated: August 12, 2008
Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS