Diabetes and Exercise: The Safety Checklist
In the United States, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes is on the rise due to several factors including unhealthy diets, insufficient exercise, and unhealthy lifestyle habits. While there’s no cure yet for diabetes, the disease can be effectively managed with a combination of medication, healthy diet and exercise program, and regular doctor check-ups. Let’s focus on the exercise part in this article.
But don’t just plunge into exercise without going through the following checklist. Safety is always the primary consideration before starting on an exercise program, especially when you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes. This is because the risk of injuries increase with diabetes, no thanks to the numb feeling in the extremities, among other symptoms.
Consult Your Doctor First
You should always consult with your doctor about the crucial matters related to your exercise plan. These matters include:
- What are the types of exercise you can engage in? You may have other health issues that affect your suitability for certain exercises, such as you can’t take up running due to your previously injured knees.
- What are the recommended duration, intensity and frequency of your workouts? You may have to start slowly due to your history of cardiovascular issues, such as hypertension, related to your diabetes.
- When can you start on your workouts? You may have to wait until you have undergone tests to rule out other underlying health issues.
When you have your doctor’s go signal, you can discuss these matters with your personal trainer at Anytime Fitness. Hiring a personal trainer is highly recommended since you will have a trained fitness professional who will provide expert guidance. You will get better results and enjoy safer exercises.
Plan Your Workouts Well
You have so many options in exercises that it can be so easy to choose one or two without thinking about the impact on your health. These options include swimming, walking and running, and dancing in Zumba classes, as well as yoga, Pilates, and light weight training. These are all good choices in terms of getting a fitter mind and body but not every one of them will be suitable for your age, fitness goals, and symptoms, among other factors.
Again, this is where your personal trainer comes it. You have a trained fitness professional who can take you through the paces safely. Your common goal: Maximize the benefits of exercise in managing your symptoms and minimize the risk of injury.
A few of the sensible safety precautions that you and your personal trainer will take include:
- Start slowly. You can start with 15 minutes on a moderate pace on the treadmill three times a week. As the weeks pass by, you can increase the number of minutes spent on the treadmill, as well as the intensity and incline. Your stamina and strength will gradually build up in the process.
- Combine cardio and strength training exercises. Your personal trainer will recommend two strength training sessions per week to work out your major muscle groups – legs, glutes, abs, back, arms, and shoulders.
- Always protect your feet because foot problems are all too common in diabetic people. Wear cotton socks with your athletic shoes to reduce the risks of injuries, such as blisters, bumps, sores, redness, and cuts. But even with the right socks and shoes, you should check your feet every day for these injuries, even when you didn’t work out at all.
Every two weeks or so, you and your personal trainer can also discuss incremental changes to your workout. These changes are necessary to ward off both boredom and plateaus.
Monitor Your Blood Sugar
Exercise will have an impact on your blood sugar levels, both immediately after the exercise session and over the longer period. You must then monitor your blood sugar by keeping these general tips in mind: (Ask your doctor for specific instructions applicable to your case)
- Test your blood sugar 30 minutes before working out and every 30 minutes during exercise. This is true when you are already on medications including insulin injections that control blood sugar. Your goal is to check that your blood sugar remains stable.
- On your exercise day, you should skip injecting insulin in your arms and legs. You have to choose another injection site for safety purposes.
- Avoid exercising when the insulin injected into your body is in its peak action time. Your doctor can tell you about it since it varies.
For most diabetic patients, the safe pre-workout range is between 100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL but it can be different in your case. In general, if your blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL, eat a carbs-rich snack like crackers or fruits. If it’s 250 mg/dL or higher, be sure to test for ketones. If it’s 300 mg/dL, you have to wait until it drops to the safe level.
When you feel anxious, shaky, confused, or weak; or you’re sweating more than usual; or when you have a headache or your heart palpitates, you should stop exercising. You should measure your blood sugar level and take the necessary steps to protect your health.