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Physical Activity--Why is it important?

Regular physical activity is a key part of managing diabetes, regardless of whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.  When you exercise, your insulin works better because your cells are more receptive to insulin.  Because of this, exercising consistently can lower your blood glucose and improve your A1C.  Exercise can also help with many other health conditions as it:

  • lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  • lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
  • burns calories to help you lose or maintain weight
  • increases your energy for daily activities
  • strengthens your muscles
  • keeps your joints flexbile
  • improves your balance
  • relieves stress
  • improves your sleep and digestion
  • strengthens your heart and lungs
  • increases your bone density, therefore strengthening your bones

What you Need to Know:

Your blood glucose response to exercise will vary depending on:

  • your blood glucose level before exercising
  • the intensity of your activity
  • the length of time you are active
  • your medication

To learn how different types of activity affect you, you should frequently check your blood glucose before, during and after an exercise session.  Exercise can have an affect on your blood glucose levels up to 12 hours after exercise, so it is important to monitor at later times as well. 


If you are on insulin and/or medications, you should always seek advice from your diabetes educator, but here are some helpful tips:

  • if your blood glucose levels are trending down, have a pre-exercise snack
  • always carry carbohydrate treatment with you (juice or glucose tabs)
  • if your exercise is longer than 30 minutes, check your blood glucose reading, and have a snack
  • if your blood glucose is high, and you have Type 1 diabetes, check your ketones.  If positive, avoid vigorous exercise.
  • if your blood glucose is high, and you have Type 2 diabetes, exercise will help lower your blood sugar (as long as you are not sick)

How to start:

If you decide to start a new exercise program, you should consult your doctor and remember to watch for symptoms of hypoglycemia during and after exercising. Always know what your blood glucose is prior to exercise and if necessary, have a snack to raise your blood glucose level to your own individual “safe” zone.


1.  Add physical activity to your daily routine, such as taking the stairs, parking further from the entrance, walking your dog, gardening.  Pick something you enjoy.

2.  Several times a week (try every 2nd day), do a faster paced activity such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling. 

3.  Include resistance exercises such as lifting weights (try using canned goods) or using resistance bands. 


What is aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise is a brisk exercise that promotes the circulation of oxygen through the blood and is associated with an increased rate of breathing. 


Examples of moderate intensity aerobic exercises include: 

  • biking
  • brisk walking
  • continuous swimming
  • dancing 
  • raking leaves

Examples of vigorous intensity aerobic exercises include: 

  • brisk walking up an incline
  • jogging
  • hockey
  • basketball 
  • fast swimming 

What is resistance exercise?

Resistance exercise involves brief repetitive exercises that use muscular strength to move a weight or work against a force. 


Examples of resistance exercises include:

  • lifting free weights such as barbells
  • using a weight machine
  • using resistance bands that increase muscle strength



Physical Activity Resources

There are a variety of ways you can be physically active in your own home or community. See the list of resources below for some examples.


Cambridge 519.740.4681
Guelph 519.822.1260
Kitchener 519.741.2345
Waterloo 519.886.1550
North Wellington 519.848.3620
Centre Wellington  519.846.9691





  • Local community and senior centres - see chart below


Allan Reuter Centre 507 King St E 519.740.4681 x.4422
Cambridge Centre for the Arts 60 Dickson St 519.740.4681 x.4376
David Durward Centre 62 Dickson St 519.740.4681 x.4358
G. E. (Ted) Wake Lounge 31 Kribs St 519.740.4681 x.4467
John Dolson Centre 212 South St 519.740.4681
W. G. Johnson Centre 31 Kribs St 519.740.4681.4467


Centennial Park Arena 376 College Ave W 519.837.5623
Centennial Pool 289 College Ave W 519.837.5620
Evergreen Seniors Centre 683 Woolwich St 519.823.1291
Exhibition Park Arena 70 Division St 519.837.5624
Optimist Recreation Centre 7404 Wellington Rd W 519.823.5945
Victoria Road Recreation Centre 151 Victoria Rd N 519.837.5621
West End Community Centre 21 Imperial Rd S 519.837.5657
Breithaupt Centre 350 Margaret Ave 519.741.2502
Bridgeport Community Centre 20 Tyson Drive 519.578.8751
Centreville Chicopee Community Centre 141 Morgan Ave 519.741.2490
Chandler Mowat Community Centre 22 Chandler Drive 519.741.2733
Country Hills Community Centre 100 Rittenhouse Rd 519.741.2596
Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre 150 Pioneer Drive 519.741.2641
Downtown Community Centre 35B Weber St W 519.741.2501
Forest Heights Community Centre 1700 Queens Blvd 519.741.2621
Kingsdale Community Centre 72 Wilson Ave 519.741.2540
Mill Courtland Community Centre 216 Mill St 519.741.2491
Rockway Centre 1405 King St E 519.741.2507
Stanley Park Community Centre 505 Franklin St N 519.741.2504
Victoria Hills Community Centre 10 Chopin Drive 519.741.2717
Williamsburg Community Centre 1187 Fischer Hallman Rd 519.741.2240
Township of North Dumfries
Ayr Community Centre 7 Church St 519.632.7442
Township of Wellesley
Hawkesville Community Centre 3521 Broadway St 519.699.9369
Linwood Community Centre 5271 Linwood 519.699.9369
St. Clements Community Centre 1 Green St 519.699.9369
Wellesley Community Centre and Arena 1000 Maple Leaf St 519.699.9369
Township of Wilmot
Wilmot Recreation Complex 1291 Nafziger Rd 519.634.9225
Township of Woolwich
Woolwich Memorial Centre 24 Snyder Ave S 519.669.1647
RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex 2001 University Ave 519.884.5363
Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex 101 Father David Bauer Dr 519.886.1177
Arthur and Area Community Centre 158 Domville St 519.848.3820
Centre 2000 Community Centre & Arena 14 Boland Dr 519.833.2114 x.21
Elora Community Centre 29 David St W 519.843.2800
Harriston Kinsmen Pool Harriston 519.338.2511 x.240
Hillsburgh Community Centre & Arena 95 Trafalgar Rd 519.855.4417
Mount Forest & District Sports Complex 850 Princess St 519.323.1801
Palmerston Public Pool Palmerston 519.338.2511 x.240
P.M.D. Arena & Community Centre Drayton 519.638.5511
The Centre Wellington Sportsplex 550 Belsyde Ave 519.843.2800
Victoria Park Seniors Centre 150 Albert St W 519.787.1814






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