Diabetes and Swimming

Cardiovascular fitness is important for everyone, young and old, fit and unfit, and even those in rehab, as it is one of the most effective ways to increase oxygen and blood flow. Each session releases endorphins, making you feel so fantastic.

Swimming is the best physical activity for people with diabetes, whether they have type 1 or type 2, especially those who have numbness or loss of feeling in their feet due to diabetic neuropathy.

It strengthens your body's primary muscles, which aids in diabetes management since your muscle cells absorb blood sugar efficiently. This is how any physical activity, including swimming for diabetes, significantly lowers blood sugar levels.

Swimming not only tones your body, but it also burns 350-500 calories per hour, decreases your blood pressure and cholesterol, and helps you regulate your diabetes more easily as you get fit.


Swimming is an excellent sport for diabetics for a variety of reasons. In reality, Olympic swimming legend Gary Hall, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 25, went on to win ten medals in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics. If you have diabetes, though, you don't have to win gold to benefit from swimming.

Weight Loss Assistance

Swimming burns calories, which can help you lose weight and keep it off once you've achieved a healthy weight. This is especially important for diabetics, as studies show that losing weight can improve insulin sensitivity dramatically.

Emotional wellness

Swimming, as previously stated, is beneficial not only to your physical but also to your emotional health. A leisurely swim might cause the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins, which can assist to improve your mood.

We understand having diabetes can be overwhelming and stressful at times, so swimming may be a good way to unwind. If you're new to swimming or haven't done it in a while, start carefully and gradually increase your endurance.

Cardiovascular wellness

Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in many people. Swimming has been demonstrated to promote cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate over normal, which lowers blood pressure, improves the cardiovascular system, and increases circulation.

Improves Blood Sugar Control

Swimming requires the use of all of the body's major muscles to keep it afloat. Muscle cells absorb blood sugar levels more efficiently during activity, eliminating it from the bloodstream more swiftly. The benefits of exercise for glucose control can continue for hours—or even days—but they aren't permanent. This is why, for persons with diabetes, consistent exercise is more beneficial than working out more intensely but less frequently.

No effect on joints

Swimming is not impacting feet and joints. This is significant because diabetes patients often have diminished blood flow in the small blood veins of their extremities, making cuts and blisters heal slowly and are more susceptible to infection.

Diabetes and Swimming

Swimming for people with diabetes

Before you start swimming regularly there are a few things you should know.

Ask your healthcare provider's approval

Before you can even get your toes wet, consult with your diabetes healthcare provider to ensure that swimming is a safe exercise for you. They will consider your medications, current fitness level, glucose levels, and other factors. They can also give you advice on how to continue and any additional precautions you need to take based on your type of diabetes.

Look for the right pool

Look for a pool or swim center that is easily located and has well-trained lifeguards, such as the YMCA or the Jewish Community Center (JCC). Swimming laps can be combined with some of the other forms of water training, such as water aerobics, at swim facilities that provide a variety of recreational programs. Take swimming lessons if you don't know how to swim. Consider working with a coach to create a progressive swim routine, even if you're a strong swimmer.

Increase your strength and endurance gradually

Start cautiously, even if it's only for five to ten minutes per swim session, and gradually improve your endurance to 45- to 60-minute intervals. Don't get frustrated if you need to take a small break every few laps or so—mini-breaks won't slow you down and will help you to swim for longer lengths of time in the long run.

Swimming with care for your feet and eyes

You're more likely to develop difficulties with your feet and eyes if you have diabetes. This means that when you first start swimming, you should pay special care to these areas of your body. Wear flip flops in the shower and around the pool to avoid verrucas and damage to your feet. Also, keep an eye out for indicators of major foot problems, such as changes in the color or feel of your feet, whenever you go swimming.

It's also crucial to inspect each foot for blisters, wounds, or ulcers. If you discover that something isn't mending properly, contact your healthcare provider for more information. If you have vision problems, you can go swimming, but you should consult with your healthcare provider to see if diving into the pool is safe for you.

Pay attention to these details when going for a swim as a person with diabetes

You'll want to carry more than a towel and goggles to your swim workouts if you have diabetes. To get ready, prepare:

  1. Before you begin, have a modest snack that contains protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates. If required, bring cash to purchase emergency munchies at the pool.
  2. Wearing lighter water shoes in the pool and showering sandals in the locker room. This will help protect your feet from bruises or cuts. You will protect yourself from catching an athlete's foot. After you get out of the pool, inspect your feet for cuts, bruises, or scratches.
  3. In a tiny plastic bag, keep a glucose meter and food by the pool.
  4. While in the water, inform the lifeguard of your diabetes and wear a diabetic medical ID bracelet.
  5. Check your blood sugar levels before entering the water. Your blood sugar level should be higher than 100 mg/dl, or another level agreed upon by your healthcare provider.
  6. While you're at the pool, check your glucose levels every hour.
  7. Keep yourself hydrated. Even if you don't realize it, you certainly sweat while swimming. Every time you check your glucose, drink at least 8 ounces of water.
  8. After swimming, monitor your glucose levels for 12 to 24 hours.
  9. Even when it's water-resistant or splash-proof, an insulin pump is unlikely to be corrosion resistant. Before you go swimming, disconnect it and store it in a watertight case. Reconnect it every 60 minutes to monitor your blood sugar and, if necessary, administer an insulin bolus dose.

Diabetes and Swimming

Keep yourself motivated

Make every effort to keep to your regimen after you've developed one. Make swim dates with a friend to hold yourself accountable, or enroll in a swim lesson to learn a new technique or an aquatic exercise class to spice up your routine. Boredom can be prevented by purchasing a new swimsuit every now and then. 

Join our community for more ideas on how to live a joyful and active life when living with diabetes. We know that everyone manages their diabetes in their own unique way. As well as how activity affects your diabetes is determined by the type of activity and its intensity. If swimming isn't for you, we have plenty of other programs to help you manage your diabetes, lower your risk of complications, and enjoy a healthy life.