If you have type 2 diabetes, leading a healthy lifestyle can help you manage your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of complications.

It can be challenging to overhaul your habits all at once. But small changes can make a difference.

Here are five smaller steps you can take today to help manage type 2 diabetes and improve your overall well-being.

Regular physical activity is important for mental and physical health. Along with other benefits, exercise can help you manage your blood sugar levels and weight.

To meet your recommended fitness targets, try to schedule multiple workouts each week. If you don’t have time for a full workout, do your best to get your body moving in some way. A short walk can help get your heart, lungs, and muscles working.

Here are some strategies to add extra steps to your day:

  • If you drive to work or other destinations, park on the far side of the parking lot so you have to take more steps to get from your car to where you’re going.
  • If you travel on public transit, get off the bus or train a couple of stops early to add more blocks of walking to your commute.
  • When given a choice, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • If you live in an urban area where you can do errands on foot, make an effort to leave the car at home and lace up your running shoes instead.

Even if you exercise multiple times a week, prolonged periods of sitting can have negative effects on your health.

If your day-to-day duties require you to sit for long stretches of time, make a point of standing up and moving around on a regular basis.

If you need a reminder, consider using a timer on your phone or computer to schedule short but frequent breaks.

Taking breaks from sitting may help you manage your blood sugar levels, suggests a 2016 study.

The study included participants with type 2 diabetes and overweight who did not get regular physical activity. Researchers found that 3-minute activity breaks from sitting every 30 minutes helped improve the participants’ blood sugar levels.

During each activity break, participants did 3 minutes of light walking or resistance exercises, such as calf raises and half-squats.

A 2021 study including adults with type 2 diabetes who take medication for it found that interrupting prolonged periods with 6-minute simple resistance activities every 60 minutes reduced after-meal glucose and insulin responses.

To manage your blood sugar levels and weight, it’s helpful to practice portion control. That can be tricky to do, especially when dining out.

To keep your portion sizes in check, get in the practice of asking for a takeout container when you order your meal. Before you dig into your meal, decide how much of it you want to eat. Package the rest of it up so you won’t be tempted to eat more than you planned.

You can save the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Do you have trouble remembering to take your prescribed medications? Consider setting a reminder for yourself with a smartphone app.

There are many medication reminder apps to choose from. After installing one of these apps on your phone, you can use it to schedule reminders as needed.

In some cases, you can use the same app to schedule reminders to check your blood sugar, refill your prescriptions, or attend doctors’ appointments. Some of these apps even have fitness tracking functions, which allow you to log your weight, blood sugar levels, or other health metrics.

Over time, type 2 diabetes can cause changes to your skin, nerves, and blood vessels. This can lead to a variety of complications, including foot problems.

Compared with the larger population, people with diabetes are more likely to have a foot or leg amputated, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

To help protect your feet, check them regularly for redness, swelling, cuts, and blisters. If you develop nerve damage from type 2 diabetes, you might not be able to feel injuries to your feet. That’s why it’s important to visually inspect them.

If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror to look at them or ask a loved one to help.

The ADA also recommends the following good foot care practices:

  • Wash your feet every day and carefully dry them afterward.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed and filed.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks.

If you notice signs of injury or infection on your feet, let your doctor know right away. They can examine your feet and prescribe treatment if needed.

To help manage type 2 diabetes, your doctor may encourage you to make changes to your exercise routine, diet, or other habits. Over time, even small changes can make a big difference. Ask your doctor for more tips for developing a healthy lifestyle.

It might also be helpful to reach out to others for support. Bezzy T2D is a free app from Healthline that connects you with real people living with type 2 diabetes. Ask questions and seek advice from others who get it. Download the app for iPhone or Android.