Resistance exercises can be done with weights or resistance bands.

Diabetes Canada has developed a series of introductory resistance exercises that can be done to help strengthen your lower back, abdominals, hips and other parts of your body. These are important to help you be more active in your daily activities.

In particular, the resistance band training program for beginners:

  • Involves mostly seated exercises for those with mobility difficulties.
  • Requires a resistance band (available at most stores).
  • A good starting program for those who have not done resistance exercise.
  • A good option for indoor exercise when it is raining or snowing.

Downloadable resistance exercises

Initial resistance plan progression

Follow the plan below to gradually increase repetitions, sets, and resistance to meet Diabetes Canada's recommendation of resistance activity three times a week.

Begin at the initial stage if you are inactive and want to start easy with resistance exercise.

Begin at the improvement stage if you are somewhat active and have no medical limitations.

Program stage Week Frequency (days per week) Intensity: Exertion level RPE* (10 pt) Duration (min)
Initial stage 1 2 Light 2 1 x 8
2 2 Light 2 1 x 10
3 2 Moderate 3 1 x 12
4 2 Moderate 3 2 x 8
Improvement** 5-7 2 Moderate 3 2 x 10
8-10 2 Moderate 3 2 x 12
11-13 3 Moderate 3 2 x 8
14-16 3 Somewhat strong 4 2 x 10
17-20 3 Somewhat strong 4 2 x 12
21-24 3 Somewhat strong 4 2 x 15
Maintenance 25+ 2-3 Moderate strong 3-4 2-3 x 8-15

*RPE = Rating of Perceived Exertion. See below for further information.
**Start at the improvement stage if you are somewhat active and have no medical limitations.

Table adapted from Warburton, et al. 2006.

Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Pick the number matching the word or phrase that best reflects your total amount of physical stress, effort and fatigue while doing an exercise. This number identifies your exercise intensity. Record this number on your exercise log after each session.

0 Rest Light intensity
1 Very light
2 Light
3 Moderate Moderate intensity
4 Somewhat hard
5 Hard (breathing deeply)
6 Vigorous intensity
7 Very hard (out of breath)
10 Maximal

Your resistance training should be in the moderate (RPE three to five) range. Use a weight or resistance band that feels "somewhat strong" to "strong" for you.

Resistance exercise guidelines

  • Do two sets of eight repetitions for each of the eight exercises, and do this two times a week.
  • Work up to two to three sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise (up to 12), and do this three times a week.
  • Remember:
    • Only do the exercises you can.
    • Maintain proper posture.
    • Keep movements slow and controlled.
    • Breathe with each repetition.
    • Keep to a comfortable range of motion.

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