Walking is a great way to get fit.

Here are some advantages of walking for exercise:

  • It doesn’t require a gym membership or fancy equipment – it’s totally free!
  • It’s an easy place to start since most of us do it every day – there’s no learning curve!
  • It has been shown to improve blood pressure, cholesterol, stress, and depression.
  • It can help to promote weight loss and reduce your risk for other chronic diseases like heart disease and dementia.
  • It is enjoyable and something you can do with others.
  • It is a safe and generally risk-free form of physical activity.
  • It is a form of exercise that is easy to keep up – there are lots of places you can do it!


If you’re not used to being active, you can start with 10 minutes of walking each day and build as your fitness improves.

When you begin, find a comfortable pace and try to add about three to five minutes to your daily walking time each week. A good goal to shoot for is at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week.

Start out by keeping track of how much you currently walk for a few days. Use a pedometer or a watch to determine how many minutes of walking you already do or how many steps you take.

What’s important is that you take it one day at a time and build up your walking stamina at a pace that’s comfortable for you.


Quick Tips for Walkers

  • Warm up first by walking in place or start out walking at a slower pace than normal for 3-5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 5-10 minutes after you warm up or after your walk to help you stay more flexible.
  • Keep good posture. Gaze forward, not down at the ground, with your chin level and head up.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking throughout the day before you begin your walk.
  • Wear shoes designed for walking or exercise for greater comfort and to prevent injuries.


Once you are used to your walking routine, don’t be afraid to take it to the next level. Here are some ways you can change up your walking routine to keep improving your fitness:

  • Pick up your speed for short intervals throughout your walk to get your heart rate up.
  • Increase the distance of your walks to build endurance.
  • Walk both faster and farther, and add some hills to your workout.
  • Switch up your routine. Do a faster, shorter walk some days and longer brisk walk other days.
  • Try going with a friend some days and bring music for others.

Exercising with complications

If you want to know more about exercising safely with specific diabetes complications, take a look at the list below.

This can serve as a guide to what types of activity might work for you.

Heart Disease

Be careful with: Very strenuous activity, heavy lifting or straining, isometric exercises, exercise in extreme heat or cold.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate activity such as walking, daily chores, gardening, fishing. Moderate dynamic lifting, stretching. Activity in moderate climate.


High Blood Pressure

Be careful with: Very strenuous activity, heavy lifting or straining and isometric exercise.

Beneficial Activities: Most moderate activity such as walking, moderate lifting, weight lifting with light weights and high repetitions, stretching.



Be careful with: Strenuous activity.

Beneficial Activities: Light to moderate daily activities such as walking, light household chores, gardening, and water exercise.


Peripheral Neuropathy

Be careful with: High-impact, strenuous, or prolonged weight-bearing activities such as walking a long distance, running on a treadmill, jumping/hopping, exercise in heat or cold, weight-bearing exercise when you have a foot injury, open sore, or ulcer.

Beneficial Activities: Light to moderate daily activities, exercise in a moderate climate, moderate weight-bearing activities that are low-impact (e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, chair exercises). Moderate weight-bearing exercises like walking are okay once foot ulcers have healed.

Those with peripheral neuropathy need to have appropriate footwear and should check their feet every day.


Autonomic Neuropathy

Be careful with: Exercise in extreme heat where dehydration can occur, activities requiring rapid changes in movement that may result in fainting. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program – you may need an exercise stress test.

Beneficial Activities: Mild to moderate aerobic activities and resistance training, but increase the length of time you exercise slowly. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.



Be careful with: Strenuous exercise, activities that require heavy lifting and straining, breath holding while lifting or pushing, isometric exercise, high-impact activities that cause jarring, head-down activities.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate activities that are low impact (e.g. walking, cycling, water exercise), moderate daily chores that do not involve heavy lifting, straining, or the head to be lower than the waist.


Peripheral Vascular Disease

Be careful with: High-Impact activities.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate walking (may do intermittent exercise with periods of walking followed by periods of rest), non-weight-bearing exercise: swimming cycling, chair exercises.


Osteoporosis or arthritis

Be careful with: High-Impact activities.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate daily activities, walking, water exercises, resistance exercise (e.g. light lifting activities), stretching

Preventing long-term conditions

Preventing long-term conditions – Your own help is needed

Don’t smoke

If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, and kidney disease. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

Like diabetes, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels. High cholesterol is a concern, too, since the damage is often worse and more rapid when you have diabetes. When these conditions team up, they can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening conditions.

Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Sometimes medication is needed, too.

Schedule yearly physicals and regular eye exams.

Your regular diabetes checkups aren’t meant to replace yearly physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications — including signs of kidney damage, nerve damage and heart disease — as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.