Fitness Training for Diabetic Clients - FitWell Content

Workouts Tips For Diabetic Clients

Blog Workout tips Reading Time: 10 minutes
BY: jacob wildman

Diabetes mellitus is a fairly severe disease that requires appropriate dietary correction and a general lifestyle change. People with diabetes are often overweight, although they, like everyone else, want to be slim and fit.

But is it worth your clients doing fitness or sports if they are diagnosed with diabetes? Doctors are sure that there are no contraindications to this – the main thing is to follow specific training rules. 

Exercise improves your client’s body’s use of insulin and helps them reach a healthy weight. For overweight people motivated to exercise, feasible physical activity and a healthy diet will help prevent diabetes, and people suffering from this disease will be able to improve their quality of life.

If you want to succeed at your work, join FitWell Content. FitWell Content is an assistant for fitness trainers, coaches, nutritionists, wellness professionals, and others. Interest among your clients will grow at the speed of light, and you will not have to spend time creating content yourself.

How fitness training affects diabetes

Physical activity has a beneficial effect on all metabolic processes and, first of all, on carbohydrate metabolism. The glucose absorption by muscle tissue increases, and the sensitivity of insulin receptors to insulin increases. Due to this, blood sugar levels fall, and the dosage of hypoglycemic drugs, including insulin, can be reduced. In addition:

  • the breakdown of fats increases;
  • body weight decreases; 
  • the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases decreases.

A combination of strength training and cardio can help burn fat and achieve normal weight faster for type II diabetics. Strength personal training helps build muscle tissue, and the muscles, in turn, absorb glucose more efficiently. Insulin receptors become more sensitive to insulin, allowing people with type I diabetes to reduce their medication dosage. 

Doctors and trainers unanimously say that with diabetes, fitness training and sports should become an integral part of life. Moreover, people with both types of diabetes and those suffering from foot problems can do it. Doctors like to say that diabetes is not a disease but “a way of life”. And fitness for diabetes can significantly improve the quality of this life. 

So, if your clients have diabetes, they can and should do fitness.

motivated to exercise

Intensity of workouts for diabetics

Exercising lowers sugar levels, and long breaks increase it. To always keep clients in good shape, choose a feasible minimum of sports, and do them regularly and with pleasure.

People with diabetes need to be consistent and gradual in their fitness. The effect of sports can only be appreciated after a long time of regular fitness training. Still, it is easily negated if your clients quit sports and return to their previous lifestyle. 

Particular recommendations for personal training for people with diabetes:

  1. The intensity, frequency, and duration of classes should be determined, considering the client’s age, medical status, and level of motivation.
  2. When training, it should be taken into account that intense short-term muscle work increases the content of glucose in the blood. It is recommended that personal training is performed for a long time at a slow pace – exercising lowers sugar levels, and long breaks increase them. To always keep them in good shape, choose a feasible minimum of sports, and do them regularly and with pleasure.
  3. Exercises should be carried out no earlier than an hour after an insulin injection and a light breakfast (to prevent the development of hypoglycemia).
  4. It is essential to know and consider when planning a workout whether the client has other diabetes-related diseases (for example, foot ulcers, hypertension, etc.).
  5. With retinopathy (damage to the retina) and hypertension, it is not advisable to use high-intensity strength exercises.
  6. Avoid exercising in the evening before bed. It can lead to hypoglycemia and death in sleep.
  7. The patient must receive a daily dose of physical activity.
  8.  Exercises with a pronounced general strength tension and speed exercises are excluded, resulting in enhanced muscle anaerobic processes.

Physical activity in diabetes

Diabetes is often asymptomatic and can be asymptomatic for many years. So, conducting a client survey, preferably in writing, is recommended before starting fitness training to identify individuals from this risk group.

With a mild degree (6 – 10 mmol/l), as a rule, the restrictions are insignificant; the following are performed:

  • Exercises for all muscle groups
  • Movements 
  • With a large amplitude at a slow and medium pace
  • Gradually, more complex activities in terms of coordination and weights 
  • Lesson duration 30 – 45 minutes

With a moderate degree (10 – 16 mmol/l), the following are performed:

  • Exercises for small and medium muscle groups
  • Moderate and low-intensity activities
  • Lesson duration 25 – 30 minutes
  • Motor density below average

In severe (over 16 mmol/l):

Severe diabetes mellitus is often combined with atherosclerosis and hypertension therefore:

  • Classes are held about the methodology used in these diseases.
  • Exercises with a pronounced general strength tension and speed exercises are excluded, resulting in enhanced muscle anaerobic processes.
  • The density of classes depends on the degree of diabetes.
personal training

Tips for clients with diabetes who exercise

Fitness training in diabetes should become a mandatory part of life, regardless of the type of disease. They are even considered one of the methods of treating the disease, as they help control its course, improve health and well-being, and prevent complications. We’ve collected some useful tips for you to help your clients do their best.

Consult a doctor

Only an endocrinologist-diabetologist who knows your client’s condition and medical history has the right to decide what physical activity they can do. The intensity of personal training and the choice of specific exercises is determined individually and depends on age, type of diabetes, and concomitant diseases.

Control their sugar levels

Exercising lowers blood sugar levels: the muscles use up glucose during exercise. So, the doctor will have to reduce the dose of insulin. And to understand exactly how much, they need to measure the fasting sugar level before classes and 30 minutes after them and record the indicators in the self-control diary.

Increase the load gradually

The duration of classes for beginners should be only 5-10 minutes. And gradually rise to 30-40 minutes. And it is best to train for them almost daily – 4-5 times a week.

Arrange nutrition correctly

As a rule, for people with type 1 diabetes, a decrease in insulin dose is necessary before intense exercise. They should follow the right nutrition balance. And also an additional amount of carbohydrates: increase the portion you eat at breakfast. It can be fruits or sour-milk products with dried fruits. If the workout lasts more than 30 minutes, let your clients eat a portion of sugary carbohydrate foods during it. Juices or drinking yogurts are well suited for these purposes.

Watch your clients' feelings

It is necessary to determine whether it is worth doing fitness training by sugar level today. If in the morning its level is less than 4 mmol/l or more than 14 mmol \/l, it is not recommended to do it. In the first case, there is a risk of hypoglycemia. In the second – hyperglycemia (in this case, your clients should immediately consult a doctor). And, of course, if your client experiences discomfort in the heart area, headache, dizziness, and severe shortness of breath during classes, immediately stop exercising and consult a doctor.

Don't miss workouts

Physical activity must be regular. With a long break, the positive effect of exercise quickly disappears, and blood sugar levels rise. Your client’s results will decline, and they will have to start again.

Choose the right shoes

The feet receive a significant load during fitness training, and calluses and abrasions appear on them, which can be tragic for a person with diabetes – especially with type 2 diabetes, where foot neuropathy develops. A personal trainer should know that blood circulation in small and large vessels is disturbed, and the skin becomes dry, thin, and vulnerable. 

Any wound on it heals very slowly, and if inflammation begins,  the wound may increase, turn into an ulcer and lead to a diabetic foot. Therefore, advise your clients to select shoes for training carefully and see if the insole is smooth and if there is anything that can rub or injure your client’s foot. Choose soft models. Also, inspect your client’s feet before and after exercise for scuffs and other damage.

Choose the correct type of fitness

In the absence of concomitant diseases, people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are suitable for any activity. What type of fitness to choose:

  • Type 1 diabetes. The best are running, cycling, swimming, aerobics, and yoga. You can also add personal strength training. However, they are prohibited for diabetics with the threat of retinal detachment, cataracts, and coronary heart disease. 
  • Type 2 diabetes. Also, power loads, yoga, running, and aerobics are often impossible with deforming arthritis, gout, and diabetic foot, which are often companions of type 2 diabetes.

It is important to note here that hypoglycemia may develop if your clients who are motivated to exercise are receiving insulin or hypoglycemic drugs that stimulate their own insulin production! During exercise, the muscles actively work and absorb glucose from the blood. Therefore, the level of glucose in the blood decreases. So it is necessary to carry out self-monitoring of blood glucose before exercise, during, and after it, and always have easily digestible carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemia.

Our FitWell Content experts could provide beneficial fitness advice to make coaching more effective for your clients.


Excessive loads force the body to take the simplest path and use lactic acid. With an increase in training intensity, carbohydrates are processed in the blood. At the same time, the level of adrenaline increases greatly. The liver reacts to it with an unplanned release of glucose.

Some types of exercise increase the production of hormones with the opposite effect of insulin (for example, adrenaline). It can lead to high glucose levels and dehydration. Such types of exercise include, for example, sprinting and strength exercises.

With the diagnosis of diabetes, physical exercises with a uniform load are recommended:

  • Nordic walking;
  • jogging;
  • yoga;
  • swimming;
  • flexion-extension of the legs.

Walking, swimming, and light-to-moderate-intensity cycling are the most universally appropriate physical activities. For those who are just starting to practice, the duration of classes should increase gradually from 5-10 minutes to 45-60 minutes a day.

Sports activities are not prohibited for people with diabetes. Your clients should learn how to control their diabetes outside of exercise to be safe. It is essential to plan ahead for exercise.

Leave a Reply

Back to top of page
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop