ADA: Guideline Recommends Light Activity Every 30 Minutes

A new guideline published by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends 3 or more minutes of light physical activity—such as walking, leg extensions, or overhead arm stretches—every 30 minutes during prolonged sedentary time, especially for people with type 2 diabetes.1

This recommendation updates the ADA’s previous guideline of light physical activity every 90 minutes.

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Sedentary behavior has negative effects on health, especially for people with diabetes and prediabetes. However, studies have shown that moving every 30 minutes can improve blood sugar management.

To update the recommendations, a task force of diabetes and exercise physiology experts from the United States, Canada, and Australia reviewed 180 studies of diabetes research.

The recommendations for physical activity will vary based on a person’s type of diabetes, age, overall health, and risk of diabetes-related complications. They also make the following recommendations:

  • Physical activity should be prescribed to all patients with diabetes
  • Both resistance and aerobic activity is beneficial, and patients should get at least 150 minutes of activity per week.
  • Older adults should aim for 2 to 3 days per week of stretching and balance training, such as yoga.

“These updated guidelines are intended to ensure everyone continues to physically move around throughout the day—at least every 30 minutes—to improve blood glucose management," the authors concluded.2

"This movement should be in addition to regular exercise, as it is highly recommended for people with diabetes to be active. Since incorporating more daily physical activity can mean different things to different people with diabetes, these guidelines offer excellent suggestions on what to do, why to do it, and how to do it safely."

—Amanda Balbi


  1. Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Yardley JE, et al. Physical activity/exercise and diabetes: a position statement of the American Diabetes Association [published online October 25, 2016]. Diabetes Care.
  2. American Diabetes Association issues new recommendations on physical activity and exercise for people with diabetes [news release]. Alexandria, VA:  American Diabetes Association; October 25, 2016. Accessed October 27, 2016.