Exercising with Diabetes
For years we have been leading exercise classes for patients with diabetes. Whether you are newly diagnosed, or have managed your condition for years, exercise is an essential part of your diabetes management program. As with any exercise program, it is a good idea to check with your physician before becoming more active. Once you have the ‘all clear’ from a medical standpoint, it is now time to begin putting your personalized program together.
The first thing you should know when beginning an exercise program is that there is a tremendous amount of variety available to you when becoming more active. Until you find a program that suits your ability and interest level, it may be difficult to stick with it in the long run. What you want is a program that fits in to your lifestyle so that it will become a healthy habit for years to come.
Let’s start with the benefits:
• Exercise helps lower your blood sugar: For people with type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends the following blood sugar targets. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these goals:
– Before meals, your blood sugar should be from 70 – 130 mg/dl for adults
– After meals (1-2 hours after eating), your blood sugar should be less than 180 mg/dl for adults
• Exercise reduces your risk for heart disease
• Exercise reduces your stress level
• Exercise increases muscle mass and decreases body fat
• Exercise elevates mood and decreases blood pressure
It is essential that one monitors blood sugar before and after exercise sessions.
• Exercise can make your blood sugar drop up to 12 hours after you are done, so be sure to check it right after exercise as well as later on.
• If you use insulin, check with your health care provider when you should eat before exercise. Also find out how to adjust your dose when exercising.
• Do NOT inject insulin in a part of the body that you are exercising.
• Keep a snack nearby that can raise your blood sugar quickly.
And finally, begin slowly and increase gradually. If you are new to exercise, one of the best forms of activity is walking. Make sure that you have a comfortable pair of athletic shoes and moisture wicking socks. Check your feet regularly as diabetes can damage the nerves and blood vessels in your feet causing numbness. Increase your intensity by 10% each week and begin to add additional forms of activity such as strength training to increase muscle mass and bone density.
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