What kind of exercise is safe -- and fun -- if you have nerve damage from diabetes, called diabetic neuropathy? And how can you stay motivated after that first flush of inspiration fades?
"It depends on where you're starting," says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. "For the person who has been doing nothing, you would certainly want to start doing something that's comfortable and enjoyable and...
Move more, but be patient. Physical activity can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and can prevent weight gain, so it's key for your overall health.
But Knapp advises people with type 1 to approach it with patience. "Because they're on insulin, type 1s always have the potential for low blood sugar," she says. "Most people need medication adjustments any time they change their exercise level, intensity, or duration, and it can take some trial and error to figure out the best adjustments."
Seek support. People with type 1 make up just 5% to 10% of the diabetes population, which can feel isolating. Knapp recommends you join a support group or find other ways to connect with people with the same disease.
At Cleveland Clinic, she often helps with a "shared medical appointment," in which people with type 1 diabetes attend medical checkups together and share support and ideas. That camaraderie can keep them upbeat and on track with healthy habits.
See a certified diabetes educator (CDE) at least once a year, even if you've had the condition for 30 years.
"Technology, treatment methods, and medications all change over time," Knapp says. A diabetes educator can keep you up to date, answer any questions, and review your current treatment plan.
Questions you might ask a CDE:
Are there any particular types of exercise that I should try?
If I have trouble balancing my blood sugar after exercise, what should I do?
Can you recommend any nearby support groups for people with type 1 diabetes?
Which apps and web sites do you like for people with my condition?
What target zone do you recommend for my blood sugar and A1c?
Try tech tools. Consider using web sites and apps to stay on top of your disease. Knapp watches the Diabetes Daily page on Facebook for news about new medications and other developments. To track carbs, she suggests the CalorieKing and MyFitnessPal apps.
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