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Tips for Moving Safely

Take these extra steps to care for your diabetes when you work out.

  • Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. He or she may have some advice about the best approach for you.
  • Hydrate. You lose water when you exercise, and that can upset your blood sugar levels. Make sure to drink water before, during, and after exercise to make up for what you lose. This is even more important if have nerve damage from diabetes. Talk to your doctor about the best fluids to drink while exercising, especially if you take insulin or a drug that can lower your blood sugar.
  • Protect your feet. Nerve damage and blood flow problems from diabetes can lead to foot wounds, so be careful. Get a good pair of sneakers that feels comfortable. Before and after exercise, check your feet for sores, blisters, or other signs of irritation. If you notice any, get treatment right away.
  • Ask your doctor if you should check your blood sugar before, during, or after exercise. Find out how certain exercises, and how long you do them, change your blood sugar. Learn what levels are too low and too high for moving safely. Learn how to treat signs of low blood sugar and what types of snacks to eat to prevent them.
  • Watch the temperature. If it's very hot or cold, watch your blood sugar. Your body uses insulin differently at extreme temperatures.
  • Wear a medical ID tag. Wear a tag like MedicAlert or carry an ID card that says you have diabetes.
  • Keep a snack handy. Have a snack with you in case your blood sugar level drops low while you exercise.
  • Check for ketones. If you have type 1 diabetes, do not exercise if your blood sugar is greater than 250 mg/dL and your ketones are positive. This could mean you have low insulin levels and exercise will raise your blood sugar level.

Diabetes and Exercise: Change It Up

It happens: You think you've finally found an exercise routine you can stick with forever. At last you'll be in shape, you sigh. Then, a few weeks or months later, the routine fizzles out -- and the yoga mat, squash racquet, or Rollerblades gather dust in the garage.

When this happens, don't get down on yourself or give up. If you have diabetes, being active is too important for your health. As soon as you feel yourself getting bored with a routine, try something else.

Some people seem wired to jog five times a week for their whole lives, rain or shine. The rest of us aren't. That's nothing to be ashamed of -- you may just need to mix it up sometimes. Try new things to keep moving fun. That could be your key to better health and good diabetes control.