Staying active has been a challenge for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Concerns about contracting COVID-19 can be paralyzing, contributing to a decline in physical activity and a deterioration in glucose control for people with diabetes.  While all of us have experienced disruptions in our daily routines, this article will discuss tips on how to keep up with the demands of maintaining physical fitness while staying healthy and safe.


Although gyms and fitness centers are starting to reopen, rushing back to the gym is not the best solution for everyone.  As a gym patron, you will be sharing equipment and locker rooms with others.  According to the CDC, it’s possible for COVID-19 to spread via contaminated surfaces, so this means gym equipment too.  If you are looking to return to the gym, here a few considerations:

  • Are machines spaced 6 feet apart or blocked off to create distance?
  • Is there adequate cleaning / disinfecting material available?
  • How crowded is the facility; Can I maintain a 6-foot distance from others?
  • Are fellow gym goers following masking guidelines?
  • How well ventilated is the facility?
  • Have exercise class sizes been reduced to minimize transmission risk?

If you’ve decided that it’s not time to return to the gym yet, great!  The important thing is that you’re thinking about how to better manage your diabetes with exercise.  There are plenty of other ways to reach 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week!

Outdoor exercise:

Getting out into nature is a powerful remedy for the quarantine blues.  Notably, outdoor exercise is widely considered a low risk activity for contracting COVID-19.  Guidelines state that you should mask up if you cannot maintain 6 feet from others around you, even if you are outside.  The usual outdoor exercise activities are all on the table (see below for ideas).

  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Brisk Walking
  • Swimming (COVID-19 is not known to spread via pool water)
  • Biking

Home workouts:

Resistance training is a little more challenging when performed outside a fitness center.  This is where pandemic exercisers need to get creative.  For old pros, the dilemma may simply be lack of resistance training equipment.  For people who have past success resistance training, here are a few tips to get a good lift in at home.

  • Suspension training system: This type of equipment can be attached to a door (without causing damage) or mounted to a ceiling.  The user adjusts the angle of exercise to determine difficulty.  This is an excellent way to get a full body workout in at home, at a low cost.
  • Buy a Kettlebell: A kettlebell is a cast iron ball with a handle attached and is a great way to add resistance training to your home workout without buying tons of equipment. They range from 5lbs to 100lbs.  These are growing in popularity and are often used for total body workouts. 
  • Buy a few resistance bands: For those who aren’t interested in weight training, resistance bands are an inexpensive investment to get started working out your muscles. Resistance bands may come with handles built in, but not always. They are light weight, so they’re portable. Don’t be fooled by this, they can pack a fair amount of resistance and help you get a great workout

Looking for more structured home workouts?

  • Youtube: Believe it or not, Youtube has hundreds of channels with free workouts. Types of exercise on videos on Youtube vary quite a bit, from yoga, to body weight exercise routines to jazzercise.
  • GlucoseZone: This is a digital exercise program created specifically for people with diabetes (PWD). The program includes follow along exercise videos, delivered on their or via their mobile app.  Typically, GlucoseZone is a paid program, however it’s been offered for free since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.  This is a great program for PWD who may just be beginning exercise.  GlucoseZone assesses each participant’s hypoglycemia risk depending on each individual’s medication profile and will provide diabetes specific decision support to keep you safe on your quest to be active.

Specifically pertaining to COVID-19, are the benefits of exercise worth the risk?

The answer is a resounding yes!  With many forms of entertainment and social functions on hold, take this opportunity to re-invest time into your own health and start exercising.  As outlined in this short article, there are endless ways to become or stay active while adhering to physical distancing guidelines.  In fact, with a little motivation, you can improve your fitness without leaving your home!  To exercise or not to exercise? Is this even a question?





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