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Tips for Teens with Diabetes: Be Active

Get moving!

Image of a young boy with his basketball

Physical activity is good for everyone whether you have diabetes or not. Being active helps you:

  • Keep your body healthy and strong.
  • Stay at a weight that is right for you.
  • Lose weight slowly.
  • Feel better if you are in a bad mood or stressed out.
  • Relax and sleep well.
  • Lower your blood glucose and keep it close to normal.

What can I do?

There are many ways you can be active. Pick the things you like to do:

  • Take a walk, hike, or ride a bike.
  • Skateboard, roller blade, or ice skate.
  • Listen to music and dance.
  • Go bowling.
  • Play soccer or other sports.
  • Take PE or gym in school.
  • Play video games that make you move.

Get moving and have fun! Make being active a part of your life every day.

How much do I need?

Be active at least 60 minutes every day. It is okay to break it up into 20 minutes, three times a day. If you have not been active, start slowly. Choose something you like to do.

How can my family and friends help?

Be active with friends and family. It is more fun with others. Ask your family members and friends to get fit with you.

  • Take a walk after dinner.
  • Help to clean the house, cut the grass, do yard work, rake leaves, or shovel snow.
  • Walk to and from school with friends.

What should I do before I start?

Image of mom and dad

Talk to your doctor about types of activity that will work best for you. Ask if:

  • You need to check your blood glucose before and after activity.
  • Your medicine can make your blood glucose get too low during activity. If so, bring a snack.

What if I do not like it?

Think of other ways you can get active:

  • Wash the family car.
  • Do sit-ups.
  • Lift light weights (you can use a pair of hand weights or two soup cans).
  • Jump rope or jog in place while you watch TV.
  • Take the stairs when you can.
  • Walk fast around the mall a few times.

If at first you cannot do a lot or get out of breath—keep at it. Add a little more each week. Make a list of things you like to do. Hang it in your room and look at it every day.

Tips for parents

  • Talk to your teen’s school about having more active time for students.
  • Ask the school if you and your child can use the gym after school.
  • Have your teen join active programs like swim clubs, rec programs, the YMCA, the 4-H youth organization, the Boy or Girl Scouts, or Boys and Girls Clubs.
  • Talk to local community leaders about making safe places for teens to be active.
  • Offer to help fix up public playgrounds or sport fields.

Take charge of your diabetes

Image of a healthy sandwich

If you have type 2 diabetes, you need to:

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Be active every day.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Check your blood glucose as planned with your health care team.
Stay at a healthy weight. Taking care of your diabetes can help you stay fit, feel great, and give you more energy to have fun.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.


November 2012

Contact Us

Health Information Center


 Additional Links


 Alternate Versions


You can also order print versions from our online catalog.