Many doctors recommend exercise for diabetes to help regulate blood sugar levels and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Diabetic exercises also can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Any time you exercise, blood sugar monitoring will most likely be part of your routine.
Working with Your Doctor
Before starting your exercise routine, talk with your doctor and ask for help designing an exercise program that is right for you, whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
At your appointment, your doctor will discuss the effects of exercise. You’ll probably need to check your blood sugar levels before and after exercise. Also, you might need to adjust your medication levels or eat more both before and after exercising.
Enjoying Diabetic Exercise
Many people hate the thought of exercise. However, getting exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym. Most people can find ways to exercise in their daily lives. Housecleaning, gardening and walking rather than driving short distances all benefit your muscles and your heart.
While you’ll need your doctor’s approval, these exercises are generally considered safe for diabetics:
- Riding a bicycle
To make exercising even more fun, consider taking an exercise class. Many gyms and fitness centers offer a variety of exercise classes that allow you to stay in shape and make friends!
Diabetes Complications and Exercise
Diabetics can experience complications, many of which can be impacted by exercise. These include:
- Difficulty controlling blood sugar
- Nerve damage in legs and feet
- Poor circulation
- Vision problems.
To reduce the risk of complications, here are a few preventive measures diabetics can take:
- Check blood sugar levels: Check your blood glucose levels before and after exercising, as well as during your exercise program. If you feel that you are becoming hypoglycemic, stop and drink or eat something containing sugar. Wait for about 20 minutes and then test your blood again to make sure that your sugar level is at a safe level before you resume exercising.
- Talk to your doctor: Some types of exercise may not be appropriate for diabetics who have nerve damage or severe eye disease. Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
- Wear proper shoes: To protect your feet, make sure that you have good, well-fitting shoes and socks. Examine your feet daily, to make sure that you do not have cuts or sores that are not healing. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your doctor immediately.
Exercises Tips for Diabetics
When you first begin exercising, doctors recommend starting slowly. You may want to divide your exercise session into small periods of time, especially when starting an exercise program. For example, if your doctor suggests walking for 30 minutes a day, you could start out by walking 10 minutes three times a day.
Here are some more diabetes and exercise tips:
- Bring plenty of water to drink.
- Carry identification, such as a medical bracelet or ID tag, in case of an emergency.
- Don’t forget to warm up and cool down. Stretch for about five to 10 minutes both before and after exercise.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothes.
Family Doctor. (1999). Diabetes and exercise. Retrieved August 23, 2007, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/living/351.html.
Medical News Today. (n.d.). Exercise tips for diabetics. Retrieved August 21, 2007, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/80036.php.
Mullen, D. (n.d.). Exercise and diabetes. Retrieved August 21, 2007, from http://www.simplefitnesssolutions.com/articles/diabetes.htm.