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