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How to Succeed With Your Diabetes Exercise Plan

WebMD Feature

Ready to get fit? It’s good for your diabetes, burns off stress, and makes you feel good. Once it becomes a habit, you might be surprised to find that you look forward to your workouts!

First, check in with your doctor to find out if you should avoid any activities. You might be able to do more than you think you can.

Once your doctor gives you the green light, your choices are wide open. What activities sound like fun? Pick something you’ll enjoy.

Check your blood sugar, also called glucose, before and after exercise. "It's a motivation tool," says Jacqueline Shahar, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. “When you exercise and see your blood glucose improve, you'll probably do more because it's going in the right direction."

In time, your doctor might be able to lower your insulin or diabetes medications. You should still check that your blood sugar isn't too high or too low.

Keep snacks on hand for low blood sugar. Be prepared. Bring fast-acting snacks to the gym or on your outdoor workout in case your blood sugar drops too low while you're exercising.

Wear comfortable shoes. Good shoes will help you avoid foot problems, which can be more serious when you have diabetes. They should be appropriate for your activity. When in doubt, ask your doctor.

Wear a diabetes ID. Wear a bracelet or necklace, or carry something that says you have diabetes. It should list an emergency contact and say whether you take insulin.

No Time for Exercise?

Jennifer Auyer of Nashua, N.H., knows what that’s like. Between her job and her family, there wasn’t an easy spot on her schedule for working out.

Her father became her reason to do it anyway.

Auyer’s dad had many health problems related to type 2 diabetes, including heart disease, a foot amputation, and vision problems. He died young from those complications at age 61.

Growing up, Auyer never saw her father, a heavy man, exercise.

She was overweight, too, and knew she needed to make a change. "I said, 'I don't want to go through what he went through.' I was following the same path,” she says. “I wanted to find something to help me.”

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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