Before You Start Your Diabetes Exercise Plan

Healthcare provider examining woman's foot.Fitness plays a special role for people who have diabetes. Being fit means becoming healthier by adding activity to your day. Talk to your healthcare provider before getting started. He or she may want you to have a checkup before you become more active. Also, having certain tests first helps you and your healthcare provider learn how you will respond to a fitness program.

Your checkup

A medical checkup helps ensure that your fitness plan will bring you the most benefit. It also keeps at a minimum the risks that may come with physical activity. As part of your checkup:

  • You may have a test called a hemoglobin A1C. The A1C test measures your average glucose (sugar) level over 2 to 3 months. A1C is usually given as a percentage. But it is now also given as a number representing estimated Average Glucose (eAG). Unlike the A1C percentage, eAG gives you a number similar to the numbers listed on your daily glucose monitor.

  • Your healthcare provider may check the health of your heart with a resting electrocardiogram. Diabetes can cause heart problems. But a fitness program can help these problems get better. Being fit can also help improve your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

  • Your healthcare provider may check the health of your feet. People who have diabetes can have problems with their feet. Your healthcare provider can check your feet before you become more active. Take time to find shoes that will support your feet well while you exercise. 

If you have an exercise stress test

An exercise stress test can show how your heart responds to activity and what level of exercise is right for you. You will have small electrodes placed on your chest. You will then walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike while your heart rate is monitored. If you have this test, your healthcare provider will give you more details.