- Talk to your doctor before you start your exercise routine.
While there are very few diabetics who would not benefit from regular exercise, certain diabetic complications such as diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy may effect the types of exercise you should be engaging in. Your doctor will be able to advise you on how best to exercise safely.
- Be sure to select the right pair of shoes for the activity you will be engaging in.
A well-fitting pair of diabetic walking shoes is perfect for most outdoor activities. For rougher terrain, diabetic boots such as the Propet Camp Walker Hi Men's Waterproof Boot may be more appropriate.
- Start slowly and increase the length and intensity of exercise over time.
According to the American Diabetes Association and other experts, your eventual goal should be to exercise for 30 minutes a day, but you donít have to get there immediately. You can and should start small, exercising 5 to 10 minutes per day and gradually increasing the length of your workout as your health and comfort level improves. If 5 minutes of sustained exercise still seems daunting take baby steps. Park in a farther parking space then you normally would. Walk to the corner store. Take the stairs (itís easiest when you take the elevator up and the stairs going down). Even the smallest increase in physical activity and movement can have a positive effect. Too busy to give up a full 30 minutes of your time all at once? Studies show that several mini-workouts spaced throughout the day can be just as beneficial as getting all your exercising in at one time.
- Check your blood sugar right before you start exercising, and right after you finish.
If you know you will be exercising for longer than 45 minutes, plan to check your blood sugar every 20 to 30 minutes.
- Do not exercise if your blood sugar levels are greater than 250 mg/dl and ketones are present before you begin exercising.
Wait until your blood sugar has stabilized before beginning exercise.
- If you're going to inject insulin prior to exercising don't inject it into the body part you plan to exercise.
For example if you plan to jog don't inject into your leg and if you plan to lift weights don't inject into your arm. The increased circulation to the area of injection tends to cause the insulin to be absorbed too quickly decreasing its effectiveness.
- Wear a clearly visible diabetic medical identification bracelet or shoe tag whenever you exercise.
If possible exercise with a friend who is aware you are diabetic.
- Watch out for hypoglycemia. The symptoms of hypoglycemia are: dizziness, tremors, faintness, headache, disorientation, sudden fatigue, and paleness.
If you notice any hypoglycemia symptoms stop exercising immediately and find a source of easily digested sugar such as orange juice, soda, honey, jelly beans, or life savers. Test your blood sugar immediately and then 15 minutes after consuming the sugar. The risk of hypoglycemia is highest among type 1 diabetics who should pack a small sugary snack with them whenever they exercise just in case.
- Stay hydrated.
Being dehydrated can raise your blood sugar. Pack water if you know you will be sweating. Drink water an hour before and after your workout regardless of the level of exertion.
- Donít forget to warm up and cool down.
If youíre engaged in very gentle exercise this tip is less relevant. If you expect to significantly elevate your heart rate and workout your muscles be sure to stretch and (for most exercises) walk at a gentle pace for five to ten minutes before and after exercising. This decreases the strain on your heart by gradually increasing your heart rate from its resting rate to the new training rate and then gently slowing your heart rate to its recovery rate. Ask your doctor about warm up and cool down procedures specific to the type of exercise you will be engaging in.
- Examine your feet carefully after exercising.
Blisters, cracked heels, and other foot injuries can usually be prevented with proper diabetic footwear. If, however, these do occur, be sure to contact a podiatrist immediately. Minor injuries to diabetic feet can easily lead to more serious diabetic foot problems if left untreated.