Being active is one of the AADE’s (American Association of Diabetes Educators) seven self-care behaviors for managing diabetes, and it is a crucial component of diabetes self-management. Follow these tips to ensure that you are implementing a routine that is safe and tailored to your specific needs.
Get clearance from your doctor
Be specific with the type of exercise you plan to do and notify your doctor of the details. The activity may require changes in your meds, such as insulin, in order to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If you suffer from any complications from diabetes, you may need to adjust your routine.
Always test your blood sugar levels prior to exercise
During physical activity, blood sugar levels can decrease rapidly based on the intensity, so be sure to monitor closely. Carry your glucometer and test periodically during your exercise routine in order to avoid hypoglycemia.
Prior to exercising, it is important to have a meal or snack containing carbohydrates to prevent low blood sugar. When engaging in longer bouts of exercise, carry an easy digestible carbohydrate such as ½ banana, a small orange, fruit juice or glucose tablets, to consume in case blood sugar levels start to drop.
Frequent hydration is always important but especially during exercise, and it is even more essential when exercising in the heat. It is important to hydrate prior to exercise and then frequently throughout your routine.
Wear proper footwear
Wear comfortable shoes that match the activity you are participating in. Be sure to clean and check feet daily for any cuts, sores or adhesions. Consult with your podiatrist if you have any foot problems prior to starting a new exercise routine.
Vary your routine
Alternate between cardio-based activities (such as jogging, swimming, biking) and strength-based workouts. Aim to incorporate resistance training at least twice a week. This type of training can include lifting weights, utilizing resistance bands or practicing workouts that include bodyweight movements such as squats, push-ups and lunges.
Make it fun
People who engage in activities that they enjoy tend to stay more consistent with their routine. If working out isn’t your thing, try a fun activity such as dancing or playing your favorite sport. If you are still looking for motivation, grab a workout buddy to hold you accountable.