As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and our communities open back up, you may be feeling inspired to go outdoors and be more active this summer. For individuals with diabetes, regular physical activity has many benefits, such as stabilizing your blood sugar levels, helping you sleep more soundly, boosting your overall mood, and reducing your chances of developing high blood pressure or cholesterol. But before you get moving, we have a few important tips to ensure you’re exercising safely and effectively.
Start with an activity you enjoy, such as jogging, swimming, biking, or hiking. The American Diabetes Association recommends getting some form of daily exercise, and while this may seem intimidating at first, you can try making a goal for yourself based on the “SMART” system:
For example, instead of setting a general goal such as, “I want to exercise this week,” try a more specific one like, “I want to exercise for at least 30 minutes two times this week.” When you set more specific and realistic goals for yourself, you’re more likely to achieve them. These types of goals also make success easier to measure, which can help keep you motivated.
As a person with diabetes, it’s also important to consider personal factors that may affect your ability to exercise, such as whether you are on insulin or medications that can quickly lower blood sugar levels. It’s always important to check your blood sugar prior to exercise and carry high-carb snacks with you in case your blood sugar levels drop. Hydration is also essential – be prepared to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your exercise activity.
So, what types of exercise should your routine include? A comprehensive fitness program typically consists of both aerobic exercise and strength or resistance training. Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, running, biking, or swimming, typically for longer periods of time. Strength training exercises involve hand weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight movements. The American Diabetes Association recommends strength training at least twice a week for optimal health benefits and blood sugar control.
If you feel like you need more guidance, there are a wide variety of online video resources that you can refer to, as well as mobile apps specifically designed for people with diabetes. You can also join a fitness group or hire a personal trainer for a plan that is specifically tailored to your health and wellness goals.
Before you begin any new exercise regimen, we recommend checking in with your Primary Care Provider (PCP). At AdvantageCare Physicians, your PCP will take a “whole you” approach to care and consider your entire health picture – all of the physical, mental, and lifestyle factors that impact your health. Schedule an appointment today.