Tips for Exercising with Diabetes

Content by: Sarah Bigbee, RD

Exercise plays a very important role in the treatment of diabetes. Follow a few of these tips for implementing a new exercise routine into your new lifestyle.

Tips for Exercising with Diabetes
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Exercise is an extremely important component of living with diabetes. The benefits are both physical and mental. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, decreases the risk of various cardiovascular diseases, supports weight control and promotes an overall sense of well-being. When starting a new exercise regimen while being treated for diabetes, it is important to be aware of potential problems that may arise.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugars, is a possible side effect for people with diabetes, especially when using insulin or secretagogues (a type of medication that helps your pancreas make/release insulin). This may occur during, directly after, or long after the activity, due to how the body uses stored glucose.

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugars, can also occur during or directly after exercise, due to the release of stored glucose. The best way to determine how your body is affected by exercise is to check your blood sugars before, during, and after exercise, especially if you are using a new medication or are starting a new exercise plan. You may find it beneficial to carry a healthy, carbohydrate snack while exercising to address any hypoglycemic episodes.

When embarking on a new lifestyle remember to start slow in order to decrease the risk of these side effects. Starting slow looks different depending on each individual's current fitness level. For people new to exercise walking and gentle calisthenics are a great place to start. These require no gym memberships or equipment other than athletic shoes and your own body weight.

Make a goal that is attainable, but slightly challenging. For example, two 15 minute walks per day at least three times each week. This will help build endurance. As this becomes easier, simply add more time to your walk or increase the number of days that you walk. Gentle calisthenics include wall push-ups, squats, modified jumping jacks, bird-dog crunches, and many more exercises. These will help raise the heart rate as well as strengthen muscles while minimizing joint stress and pain.

ALWAYS listen to your body! Take note of how you feel before, during, and after your exercise.

Quick Tips for Implementing a New Exercise Routine:

🗓️ Tip 1: Schedule your workouts.
● Schedule your workout a week in advance. Sit down on Sunday and write out your daily plans for the week.
● Train your mind to prioritize your workouts.
● Set daily reminders in your calendar. Remember to set alerts!
● Schedule your workouts at times that are convenient.
● Adapt your schedule, when needed.
● Consistency happens over time!

🗒️ Tip 2: Organize workout logs
● How productive are you at work without having systems in place?
● Monitor fitness productivity! You need to have records to keep you on track.
● Organize workouts in an App, on a simple spreadsheet or in a journal.
● Set workouts in the correct order to maximize results.
● Keep track of your progress with proper recording. Evaluate your workouts to stay on top of your goals.

*This can also help you figure out what exercises you enjoy most!

📝 Tip 3: Write out your goals.
● Life can be a roller coaster with the ups and downs throughout a year! It’s easy to fall off when you lose focus.
● How powerful are your actions when you feel motivated? Imagine how driven you will be when you see your goals everyday?
● Display your goals in clear view, for a daily reminder. And reevaluate on a regular basis.
● Set goals that align with your vision.
● Read your goals before you go to sleep!

🧠 Tip 4: Be mindful of your progress.
● Progress is hard to see when it is slow and steady. Take the time to notice how you feel after a workout!
● Write down the things that have changed positively in your life since implementing your workout routine.
● Train your mind to be aware of your health.
● Fill your mind with positive thoughts and focus on progress not perfection.