Best Exercises for People With Diabetes During Pandemic

Medically Reviewed By: DR. Rashmi GR, M.B.B.S, Diabetologist April 14, 2022

Last updated on October 17th, 2023

COVID-19 declared as a pandemic by the WHO can infect any person of any age. Mild symptoms of coronavirus require no hospitalization. One can fight the disease with a proper immune system and with a hygienic lifestyle. Let us examine how a diabetic person could keep himself or herself safe during this pandemic.

Coronavirus and Diabetes

Research on coronavirus impact depicts the fact that older people and people with diseases like diabetes, and heart disease are at more risk. Across the world, it was found that people with diabetes required more ventilator support to assist in breathing. The majority of the patients hospitalized across the world infected with coronavirus suffered from diabetes.

Diabetic patients are at more risk due to coronavirus due to:

  • The immune system is compromised due to diabetes. It thus makes it the patient harder to fight the virus. The recovery time increases for such patients [1].
  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus can impact the beta cells functioning. These are the cells that produce insulin. The negative impact on the beta cells might lead to problems like diabetic ketoacidosis; hyperglycemia and can cause complications [1].
  • Early research also proves the fact that the virus can survive in elevated blood glucose levels [1].
  • Thus, if you are diabetic you are at higher risk and thus extra care is essential to ensure that you are safe.


Elderly patients and patients with diabetes are at more risk of coronavirus complications. They are also at higher risk of contracting viruses.

The Key to Safety

Governments in many countries have limited their people’s movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, confining them to homes. To combat the coronavirus, everybody must be conscious, and if you have diabetes, you’ll have to be much more careful.

The key to remain safe from the coronavirus and to avoid complications if you are diabetic is:

Why Exercise is Important

Why exercise is important

An exercise that includes physical activities is essential for maintaining proper health. Diabetic patients need to remain active and healthy. Exercise is the key to remain active and healthy.

  • Exercise helps in managing weight. Physical exercises can help you shed excess calories from dietary changes and reduce sedentary activity. Obesity has been the leading cause of diabetes. With proper weight, managing diabetes can be managed effectively.
  • It helps in maintaining proper blood pressure. This shall help in avoiding complications of diabetes.
  • It helps in lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raises good cholesterol HDL. All these are essential for avoiding risks associated with cardiovascular diseases.
  • Physical exercises help in the strengthening of the muscles and bones. This shall help in increasing the absorption of glucose by muscles and thereby helping in maintaining blood glucose levels.
  • Numerous researches have proven the fact that exercises helps in decreasing anxiety, and boost overall well-being. Exercises are regarded as the mood booster which helps in reducing stress and develop resilience.
  • Additional advantages for people with diabetes: exercise reduces blood glucose levels and increases the body’s insulin sensitivity by reducing insulin resistance.
  • Exercise strengthens the immune system: evidence indicates that daily physical activity of moderate intensity has immune-enhancing effects that can help the body combat infections, like COVID-19.
  • Exercise enhances sleep: evidence indicates that regular exercise will help you fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality — and that getting a good night’s sleep can boost your immune system.


Exercises are essential for diabetic patients to remain active and healthy. It also avoids the complications like cardiovascular diseases, foot pain, and kidney diseases.

Lowers stress, blood sugar level

Exercise lowers your stress levels, and it lowers your blood sugar level. People with diabetes are encouraged to work out regularly to control blood sugar levels better and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

The explanation for this is that working muscles use more glucose than resting ones. Muscle activity contributes to increased absorption of sugar by muscle cells and lower levels of blood sugar. Physical activity can improve the sensitivity to insulin and help lower blood glucose levels and burn calories.

Talk about happy hormones

Talk about happy hormones - Exercises for people with diabetes

Talk about happy hormones – Exercises for people with diabetes

  • Exercise can help boost your mood. Your brain chemistry matters. For certain instances, only daily exercise can improve brain chemistry.
  • Upon exercise, biochemical processes and so-called happiness hormones release.
  • The most common are endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin-after exercising; you have those guys to thank for that happy feeling.
  • Upon exercise, biochemical processes and so-called happiness hormones release. These brain chemicals are essential in controlling your mood. Endorphins are one of the neurotransmitters released while exercising. Physical exercise also activates dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
  • Regular exercise, for example, will positively affect the brain’s serotonin levels. An increase in your serotonin levels improves your general mood and well-being. This can also help boost appetite and sleep cycles, frequently negatively affected by depression.


Regular exercises boost mental health by reducing stress and by increasing the release of happy hormones.

Types of Exercises For Diabetes

Patients with diabetes need to do follow a good fitness schedule. Some key points to consider before doing exercises are:

  • You have to see how the body reacts to the workouts that you’re doing. Exercise can lower blood sugar levels, but you need to make sure it doesn’t lead to a sudden drop.
  • Therefore you need to follow a fitness regimen that maintains a balance of blood sugar levels and allows you to lose weight at the same time to create an optimal balance.
  • If you have diabetes, exercise will provide you with multiple health benefits but do not suddenly indulge in exercising too much.
  • Give your body enough time to embrace the changes.
  • Slowly increase the time spent on workouts and the number of exercises.

During the pandemic time, with social distancing restrictions follow exercise that can be done at home, that avoids regular eyes and mouth contact, and can be done alone. Some of them are:

  • Brisk Walking in the nearby lawn or open area or on a treadmill.
  • Weight lifting
  • Pilates
  • Yoga & Meditation

Brisk Walking

Brisk Walking

Walking is a perfect starting exercise because it is natural; you can do it at a low intensity and then pick up the pace. After all, it does not require any fancy equipment. Just a pair of good shoes serve the purpose. In case of lockdown and social distancing restriction, 15 minutes of walk in the nearby lawn, open area, or treadmill will help you to remain active.

Research findings have shown that walking can help lower blood glucose, thereby improving diabetes control. People with diabetes should walk every day for at least 30 minutes.

Also Read: Is Pomegranate Good for Diabetic’s Health?

Weight training for maintaining muscle

Weight training for maintaining muscle

Weight lifting develops muscle mass, which is essential for people with type 2 diabetes

When you lose muscle mass, it’s harder to regulate blood sugar. With weight training, the fat-to-muscle ratio decreases, reducing the amount of insulin you need to store energy in fat cells.


Pilates is an exercise form that helps in developing flexibility of the body, enhances proper posture, strengthens and balances the body.

Simple Pilate mat exercises like curl, leg stretch, roll-up all help in enhancing body posture. They help in improving blood circulation and controlling weight.

Yoga & Meditation

Yoga & Meditation

Yoga as an effective diabetes therapy, because:

  • Yoga can be done in your room. The quality of life for people with diabetes who regularly practice yoga is dramatically improving.
  • The integrated method of yoga to incorporate physical activity with other lifestyle changes — such as relaxing the body, breathing exercises, diet, routine building, relaxation, and stress reduction can help people with diabetes improve their overall health.
  • Some forms of yoga can provide cardiovascular exercise, rendering it heart-healthy.

Also Read: Bigomet SR 500 Tablet For Diabetes

Safety first – Diabetes Care Tips During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Safety first - Diabetes Care Tips During the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 can increase health risks in people with diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2. To people living with diabetes, precautions are necessary to prevent the virus, if possible.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, frequently.
  • Seek not to touch your face before getting your hands washed and dried.
  • Clean and disinfect any regularly handled objects and surfaces.
  • Do not share food, cups, towels, instruments, etc.
  • While coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose and use your arm’s crook 
  • Seek to avoid contact with someone who has respiratory problems such as coughing.
  • Keep yourself hydrated with unsweetened liquids


While doing exercises follow these guidelines

  • Monitor diabetes closely
  • Stock up on food essential items
  • Stock up on test kits and medicines
  • Try to have a regular sleep schedule.
  • Cook healthy meals and stay away from processed food
  • Keep close a fast-acting carbohydrate food when exercising in the event blood sugar drops too low and hypoglycemia symptoms develop during exercise.
  • If there is a hyperglycemia condition, you should contact your doctor to lower blood sugar before commencing exercise.
  • Following an exercise regimen will help keep the condition under control.
  • Exercise will provide you with multiple health benefits but do not suddenly indulge in strenuous activities. Give your body enough time to embrace the changes. Slowly increase the time spent on workouts and the number of exercises.
  • Avoid exercising in hot locations, monitor your heart rate and glucose levels closely, and rest if you feel light-headed or short of breath.
  • Lean on to your family and peers for support and keep in touch with your diabetic management team.

Also Read: Keto Flu Symptoms

In nutshell

Remaining active both physically & mentally is the key to overcome the challenges of any disease. Recent pandemic like coronavirus has imposed serious challenges on our lives and especially on persons with diabetes. We need to ensure we remain safe and have a stronger immune system to fight the disease. This can be done through

  • Maintaining hygienic standards.
  • Eating a diet that boosts immunity & remains hydrated.
  • Follow medicines and treatment plan regularly
  • Remain active through exercises & meditation.

Also Read: Is Paneer Good for Diabetes?


I don’t have space for walking, what type of exercise can I do then?

The idea is to indulge in physical activity. Thus, simple stretching exercises like Pilates, small Yoga asana, and breathing exercises can be done at home. If you have staircases, going up and down on staircases at least once will also help you. Remember to remain safe.

What should I do, if I feel that I have symptoms of Covid-19 and when I am diabetic?

Call the doctor and inform him/her about your latest glucose levels and the coronavirus symptoms. In the meantime take necessary precautions of isolation and drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated. To rule out coronavirus, get testing done.

Is there any evidence that coronavirus can cause diabetes if you are not diabetic?

No evidence suggests that coronavirus can cause diabetes.


[1]. Apicella, M., Campopiano, M. C., Mantuano, M., Mazoni, L., Coppelli, A., & Del Prato, S. (2020). COVID-19 in people with diabetes: understanding the reasons for worse outcomes. The Lancet Diabetes & endocrinology. Retrieved from:

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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