Diabetes Exercises

Regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, and it's especially important for people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetics who are physically active can improve blood glucose management, lower blood pressure, improve blood fats, take less insulin or fewer diabetes pills, and lose weight, among other health benefits. The following ChairMaster exercise program addresses the unique needs of diabetic exercisers. Both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises are important for people with diabetes. Because diabetics can develop many different foot problems, the recommended exercises also include self-care for the feet. 

Aerobic Exercise

Seated pedaling  

  • Sit upright in the chair—using the backrest or the ChairMaster foam pad for support as needed.
  • Place the feet in the pedal straps and check to ensure that the knees are slightly bent at the “down” position of the pedal stroke.
  • Place the hands on the armrests or on the lap.
  • Start pedaling using smooth, continuous pedal strokes at a resistance that is tolerable.

Perform seated pedaling on the ChairMaster most days of the week, accumulating a total of 150 minutes (for example, 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week). If 30 minutes is too long in the beginning, perform at least 10-minute bouts and work up to 30 minutes.

Aerobic Exercise Summary:
Work up to 30 minutes of seated pedaling, 5 days per week. 


ChairMaster Workout

Muscle-strengthening Exercise

Movement-based exercise that enhances range of motion, strengthens the muscles, and improves balance should be performed two to three non-consecutive days per week. Perform at least one set of the following ChairMaster muscle-strengthening exercises for 10 to 15 repetitions. The number in parentheses matches the exercise number on the “ChairMaster Exercise Guide”.   DOWNLOAD PDF

  • Gentle side bends (40)
  • Chest press (15)
  • Rowing reclined (19)
  • Alternate leg lifts with bands (20)
  • Standing curls (23)
  • Sit to stand squats (44)
  • Warrior 1 with chair (47)
  • Balance work and tips (49)
  • Downward dog with the chair (45)
  • Foot stretch with ankle rotations (43)

Muscle-Strengthening Summary:
Perform 1 circuit of 10-15 repitions for each exercise, 2-3 days per week. 


Exercise and Diabetes

  • Check with your healthcare provider about how exercise combined with your diabetes medications can affect blood glucose.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during physical activity, since blood glucose can be affected by dehydration.
  • Diabetes-related nerve damage can make it hard to tell if you’ve injured your feet during exercise.
  • Wear cotton socks and athletic shoes that fit well and are comfortable.
  • After exercise, check your feet for sores, blisters, irritation, cuts, or other injuries.