From the American College of Sports Medicine
What Kind of Exercise Is Best? continued...
Badenhop points out that certain conditions associated with diabetes may
prevent you from exercising. The following conditions must be corrected before
a person with diabetes can exercise safely:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) -- Signs and symptoms: double vision,
fatigue, excessive hunger, tremors, increased pulse rate, nervousness,
headache, numbness, slurred speech, excessive sweating.
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) -- Signs and symptoms: increased thirst
- Ketoacidosis (high ketone levels in the blood) -- Signs and symptoms:
abdominal pain, nausea, dehydration, drowsiness, fruity breath, glucose, and
ketones in the urine.
- Dehydration -- Signs and symptoms: severe thirst, dizziness, increased
pulse rate, confusion, irritability, headaches.
In recent years strength training has come into its own as an essential
component of overall fitness training, not just a training method for athletes
and body builders. Aerobic conditioning will improve your cardiovascular
system, but strength training can keep your muscles from weakening as a result
of diabetes and preserve muscle mass during periods of weight loss. Weight
training for people with diabetes should begin with light weights until your
cardiovascular fitness increases.
The need to exercise regularly is independent of your age. Always warm up
first before starting your exercises. If you are older and it is hard to get
out, then begin with various small stretches, sitting down if necessary.
Gradually work up to taking short walks. After a while you will probably
discover that you can do more than you thought you could do. For individuals
who have both diabetes and arthritis, exercise is a special challenge, but it
is possible. Always warm up and then work on doing exercises that strengthen
your muscles and make you feel better.
Even the best fitness program is not safe if complications are not diagnosed
and treated, so be sure to obtain a complete medical examination before
starting an exercise program.
Exercise Is Hard to Do ?
Starting a more active lifestyle is not easy, and it is even more
challenging to stick to it, but rest assured that millions of individuals with
diabetes before you have made these important changes in their lives, and you
can too. Your first step, following a thorough medical examination, should
consist of setting realistic goals with a schedule you feel sure you can
maintain. At first your exercises should be fairly easy, perhaps short walks at
a specific time each day. Then gradually build up your program and begin to
include some cross training by changing elements of your exercise to keep
motivated. Exercising with a partner is an especially good idea. Exercising
alone can lead to discouragement and losing interest, but an exercise partner
can provide the encouragement and motivation to keep you going. Finally, reward
yourself whenever you achieve an exercise goal. The reward might be some new
clothes or music, but not food!
For more information on how to begin an exercise program, see the ACSM
Fitness Book, Human Kinetics Publishers (Champaign, IL, 1998).