Take care of yourself if you have diabetes.
Sometimes, it may seem easier to pop a pill or even take a shot than to put on your walking shoes and hit the trail. But the truth is that exercise, in combination with a healthy diet, is one of the best things you can do to take care of yourself if you have diabetes.
- Exercise burns calories, which will help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Regular exercise can help your body respond to insulin and is known to be effective in managing blood glucose. Exercise can lower blood glucose and possibly reduce the amount of medication you need to treat diabetes, or even eliminate the need for medication.
- Exercise can improve your circulation, especially in your arms and legs, where people with diabetes can have problems.
- Exercise can help reduce your cholesterol and high blood pressure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
- Exercise helps reduce stress, which can raise your glucose level.
- It can lower your risk for heart disease, reduce your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure.
- In some people, exercise combined with a meal plan, can control Type 2 Diabetes without the need for medications.
If you’re out of shape or have recently been diagnosed as having diabetes, see your doctor before you begin an exercise program. Your doctor can tell you about the kinds of exercise that are good for you depending on how well your diabetes is controlled and any complications or other conditions you may have. Here are some tips for starting:
- If you’re planning to walk or jog, be sure your shoes fit well and are designed for the activity you have in mind. Be alert for blisters. Wear new shoes for a bit each day until they’re comfortable and not as likely to cause blisters. Remember, always wear socks.
- Start slowly with a low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming, or biking.
- Build up the time you spend exercising gradually. If you have to, start with five minutes and add a bit of time each day.
- Always wear an ID tag indicating that you have diabetes to insure proper treatment in case there’s a problem when you’re exercising or you have an injury.
- Avoid lifting very heavy weights as a precaution against sudden high blood pressure.
- If you have foot problems, consider swimming or biking, which is easier on the feet than jogging.
- Stretch for five minutes before and after your workout regardless of how intense you plan to exercise.
Try to exercise at the same time every day for the same duration. This will help control your blood sugar. Exercise at least three times a week for about 30 to 45 minutes.
If you plan to exercise more than an hour after eating, it’s a good idea to have a snack. Generally, it’s good to have a high-carbohydrate snack such as six ounces of fruit juice or half of a plain bbagel.
If you’re doing heavy exercise such as aerobics, running or handball, you may need to eat a bit more such as a half of a meat sandwich and a cup of milk.
If you haven’t eaten for over an hour or if your blood sugar is less than 100 to 120, eat or drink something like an apple or a glass of milk before you exercise. Carry a snack with you in case of low blood sugar.
If you use insulin, exercise after eating, not before. Test your blood sugar before, during and after exercising. Don’t exercise when your blood sugar is more than 240.
If you’re not an insulin user, test your blood sugar before and after exercising if you take pills for diabetes.
If your blood sugar level is over 300 mg/dl, if you are sick, short of breath, have ketones in your urine or are experiencing any tingling, pain or numbness in your legs, don’t exercise. Also if your medication is peaking, it’s better not to exercise.
Treat it when you feel it. Don’t wait. Be sure you have some raisins or candy on hand to raise your blood glucose level.