ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Swimming Exercise for Diabetes

Updated on June 23, 2017

Diabetes Exercise: Consider Swimming

We all know that eating well and exercising regularly are keys to good health. This is particularly true for people that suffer from diabetes.

Yet, maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging, if you are overweight and/or have joint pain or other maladies. Walking, running or even bicycling may be too painful to incorporate into a consistent fitness regimen.

Swimming exercise for diabetes, however, is an efficient, low-impact workout. Diabetics may consider swimming laps, joining a swim team (even masters!), taking part in a water aerobics class or deep water running. All of these activities are inherently social, which may also help encourage you to get to the pool for your exercise. And - most importantly - swimming is fun!

I have had Type 1 diabetes for a decade. When first diagnosed, I wrongly believed that I would have to give up my love of running and other fitness activities. Not only have I completed seven marathons (26.2 miles) since then, but I have added cycling and swimming exercise to my routine. Next year, I expect to complete a triathlon!

No matter your fitness level, age, or whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you should consider swimming. No need to buy expensive running shoes or sports equipment. A simple swimsuit, goggles and swim cap is all you need. Many local fitness clubs have lap pools available for members, as well as organized water exercise classes.

Swimming can help you lose or maintain weight, build muscle and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If you or a loved one has diabetes, consider swimming exercise for diabetes!

Diabetic swimmers show off their insulin pumps
Diabetic swimmers show off their insulin pumps | Source

Health Benefits of Swimming

  • Burns moderate to high number of calories per minute
  • Low impact workout
  • Go at your own pace
  • Inexpensive gear
  • Can be enjoyed at just about any age
  • Swimming is available year-round
  • Work a range of muscle groups for overall fitness
  • Peaceful and quiet
  • Little to no sweat or overheating
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Aids in weight loss or maintenance
  • Promotes feelings of well-being
  • Revitalizes and helps you feel young

Swimming Exercise Basics: Before You Start

Before starting any exercise routine, including swimming, be sure to consult your doctor to determine any specific health risks or considerations you should keep in mind.

After you get the green light from your medical professional, you simply need to find a well-fitting swimsuit, goggles and a swim cap (if you desire).

Many communities in the United States and Europe have a public pool that can be accessed for a low daily cost, or with relatively inexpensive membership. Be sure to ask for senior or disability discounts, if they are offered.

If you are planning on lap swimming, check the pool hours and other rules regarding the speed of swimming lanes. Usually, outside lanes are for the slowest swimmers, while interior lanes are for those that swim faster.

Diabetics should always check their blood sugar levels before any type of exercise. Those that are insulin-dependent, or people on blood glucose lowering oral medications may need to eat a small snack before jumping in the pool. If you are planning on swimming for more than an hour, you may need to bring test supplies and additional energy sources to continue the workout without experiencing low blood sugar.

Keep in mind that exercise of a duration more than 20-30 minutes may have the effect both of immediately lowering blood glucose levels, but also keeping average levels lower for up to 24 hours afterward. Diabetics who are prone to lows and highs should test more frequently during this time period and be sure to carry an emergency snack.

Swimming and Diabetes

Safety Tips for Swimming with Diabetes

  • Inform the lifeguard, coach and/or class instructor that you have diabetes and tell them the signs of high and low blood sugar
  • Wear a medical ID bracelet with your emergency information
  • Test your blood glucose before, during and after swimming as required by your doctor or whenever you experience signs of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia
  • Eat a small, light snack at least 30 minutes before swimming - preferably with carbohydrates and protein
  • If you plan an open water swim, do not go alone - swim with a buddy or have a helper in a nearby rowboat
  • Carry extra emergency insulin supplies (diabetes test kit, glucose tabs, insulin, needles, pump supplies, fast acting carbohydrate snacks and a cell phone to call 911 if necessary)

Other Swimming Exercises for Diabetes

If swimming your laps is not your thing, there are other swimming exercises for diabetes and other health conditions.

One of my favorite water classes is deep water running. Using a floatation belt around the waist, the swimmer can keep their head and shoulders above water while moving arms and legs as you would running on land. An instructor leads the class, suggesting different leg drills, speeds and resistance exercises. Music may accompany the workout.

Water running is beneficial for a number of reasons. Runners that are injured may still be able to workout in the pool. Moreover, the added resistance of the water can result in stronger muscles that are more efficient when running on land.

Water aerobics is another great swimming exercise for diabetes. There is a wide variety from which to choose, including weight classes, cardio classes, and yoga-related classes. Select a class based on interest, schedule, affordability and more.

For diabetics, swimming exercise classes are popular because of convenience and the fun factor. Unlike walking, running or cycling, swimming allows you to stay close to your diabetes supplies for quick treatment if necessary. The buoyancy of water helps minimize stress on the body, yet an effective workout is easy to obtain given the added effort you have to make against the resistance of the water.

Swimming is a healthful exercise for diabetics of all ages
Swimming is a healthful exercise for diabetics of all ages | Source

Diabetes and Exercise

What is Your Favorite Exercise for Diabetes?

See results

Open Water Swimming for Diabetes

Open water swimming can be more exciting, yet slightly riskier than activities in a pool.

Without the close confinement of an indoor facility, including instructors and lifeguards, additional planning and preparation is required for people with diabetes.

To begin with, solo open water swimming is not recommended for most people, let alone diabetics. Unlike running, walking or cycling, it is not easy to stop by a home or business to ask for assistance. Moreover, extreme swings in blood glucose levels can leave a swimmer incapacitated and quickly in danger.

Bring along another friend to swim with you, and/or request assistance from a friend or colleague to row alongside you.

Did you know that diabetics have swum the English Channel? Diabetics have competed in IronMan events. Diabetics have even participated in - and won! - swimming events in the Olympics.

Don't let a diagnosis of diabetes slow you down! If you are already athletic, simply work with your endocrinologist to help you prepare an exercise plan. New to exercise? Swimming is one of the easiest, most forgiving workouts!

Open water swimming, lap swimming and swimming exercise classes are all fun and enjoyable, especially for diabetics who may not be used to regular workouts.

The freedom and ease of gliding through the water can make even the most strenuous fitness routines feel comfortable and fun.

Why not try swimming exercise for diabetes?

Swimming is a low impact exercise for people with diabetes
Swimming is a low impact exercise for people with diabetes | Source

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)