Regular exercise can help treat high blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol; improve your mood; and increase your energy. Some patients are also able to reduce their doses of medications for diabetes with a good exercise routine.
Start slowly and work your way up
The first rule of the game is to set achievable goals. Begin by exercising a few days a week. Once you notice the effects of physical activity on your health and body shape, you’ll likely be motivated to increase the frequency and intensity of your exercise regimen. Until then, don’t sweat it! Here are some other helpful tips:
- Persons with type 2 diabetes benefit most from a combination of aerobic exercise, which raises the heart rate through upbeat, rhythmic movement, and resistance training, such as lifting weights to strengthen the muscles
- Avoid doing the same exercise or physical activity two days in a row to get maximal benefits.
- If 30 minute workouts are too intense or you have trouble making time for them, try scattering three 10-minute sessions throughout the day. You might find it much easier to follow through with your fitness goals.
- Invite a friend, join a class or work with a personal trainer. People who have strong social support are more likely than others to stick to their routines.
- Always check with your health care provider first before starting a new exercise routine to be safe
- Patients who are at especially high risk for cardiovascular complications or with a previous history of heart disease or stroke might need a stress test before beginning an exercise regimen.
- Exercise lowers blood glucose. If you have insulin-treated diabetes, ask your health care provider if your dose of insulin should be decreased on the days that you exercise.
- Workout routines do not be elaborate or time-intensive; even three short 10-minute intervals spread throughout the day can start you off on the right foot.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise.
- Check your blood glucose levels before and after exercise to become familiar with your body’s response to various types of activity. Your blood glucose might respond differently to lifting weights than it would to a pickup basketball game, for example. Changes in blood glucose levels (high or low) can sometimes last as long as 12 hours after exercise.
- Working out causes your body to burn blood glucose. For that reason, persons with diabetes often eat a small snack before and after exercise. Always keep a snack on hand in case your blood glucose drops too low.
- Check your feet daily for blisters or other signs of injury. Discuss non-healing injuries with your health care provider as soon as you notice them.
- Watch for symptoms of heart disease which may include lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Stop exercise immediately and alert your health care provider.
- Stop exercising if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, chest pain, or have other signs of low blood pressure.