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Managing Diabetes with Exercise

Many doctors recommend exercising as a means of managing diabetes. Exercise helps control diabetes by helping you shed extra pounds and maintain an optimal weight. In addition, exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels and can strengthen your cardiovascular system.

While many diabetics will need insulin to control their diabetes and will need to make certain changes to their diets, exercise is also a major component of managing diabetes.

Everyday Exercises

Many people hate the thought of exercise. The idea of spending even a few minutes on a treadmill is enough to leave a lot folks, not just diabetics, feeling less than excited.

However, getting exercise doesn't have to mean hitting the gym. Keep in mind that most people have many opportunities to exercise in their daily lives. Housecleaning, gardening and walking rather than driving short distances are all activities that can work your muscles and your heart.

Diabetics and Exercise Programs

While exercise is an important step in managing diabetes, don’t begin an exercise program without consulting your physician, particularly if have Type 1diabetes. Jumping into strenuous exercise can create diabetes complications or other health problems.

Before starting your exercise routine, talk with your doctor and ask for some help in designing an exercise program that is right for you, regardless of whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
At your appointment, your doctor will also discuss how exercise will affect your diabetes. Exercise can affect your blood sugar, so you will likely need to monitor your glucose levels before and after exercise. Also, you might need to increase your medication levels or eat more both before and after exercising.

Exercises for Diabetics

While you will need to discuss your exercise routine with your doctor, the following exercises are generally considered safe for diabetics:


To make exercising even more fun, consider taking an exercise class. Many gyms and fitness centers offer a variety of exercise classes that allow you to stay in shape and make friends!

Diabetes Complications and Exercise

Diabetics can experience a number of complications, many of which can be impacted by exercise.

Some of the complications of diabetes include:

-difficulty in controlling blood sugar
-nerve problems in legs and feet
-poor circulation
-problems with vision.

Thus, to reduce the risk of complications caused by exercise, diabetics will need to take a few preventative measures when exercising, including:

Be careful using weights:

If you have retinopathy, vision impairment or vision loss, your doctor will probably suggest that you avoid using weights for training.

Checking blood sugar levels:

Both before and after exercising, as well as every 20 to 30 minutes during your exercise program, check your blood glucose levels. If you feel that you are becoming hypoglycemic, stop and drink or eat something containing sugar. Wait for about 20 minutes and then test your blood again to make sure that your sugar level is at a safe level before you resume exercising.

Wear the proper shoes:

To protect your feet, make sure that you have good, well-fitting shoes and socks. Examine your feet daily, regardless of whether you are exercising that day or not, to make sure that you do not have cuts or sores that are not healing. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your doctor immediately.

In some cases, your physician may recommend an exercise program that will minimize the impact on your feet, as diabetics’ feet are susceptible to serious complications.

Exercises Tips for Diabetics

When you first start exercising, it is important to not overwhelm your body. Safe, effective exercise may call for dividing your exercise session into small periods of time, especially when starting an exercise program. For example, if your doctor suggests walking for 30 minutes a day, you could start out by walking 10 minutes three times a day.

Here are some more exercise tips for diabetics:

-Bring plenty of water to drink while exercising.
-Carry identification, such as a medical bracelet or ID tag, in case of emergency.
-Don't forget to warm up and stretch for about five to 10 minutes before you start to exercise. Also, cool down and stretch about five to 10 minutes after completing your exercise session.
-Bring a snack
-Start slowly. Do not expect to be able to complete your entire exercise program when you first start to exercise. You can hurt yourself by over exercising.
-Wear loose clothes
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