Your Diabetes Exercise Checklist
Exercise has huge benefits for people with diabetes. If you want to get more active, start your fitness program safely with these tips.
Know How Much Exercise You Need
Get about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, 5 days a week. You've got so many options. You could swim laps, dance around your dining room, shoot hoops, or take a hike. Choose something that makes your heart beat faster but doesn't take you to your limits.
Start slowly -- something as simple as a 15-minute walk twice a day is good at first. You can make your workouts longer and tougher over time.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you should do two strength-training sessions a week and work all your major muscle groups (arms, legs, shoulders, back, abs, and glutes).
Protect Your Feet
Show them some TLC, since diabetes makes foot problems more likely.
Wear cotton socks and athletic shoes to lower your chances of getting foot injuries, especially if you have diabetic nerve damage or circulation problems. Your sneakers should fit well and have plenty of room in the toe.
Every day, check your feet for blisters, cuts, bumps, redness, or sores -- even if you didn't work out that day.
Watch Your Blood Sugar
Exercise can affect your levels right away and over a longer time.
If you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar levels, test yours 30 minutes before you work out and then every 30 minutes as you exercise to make sure your numbers stay stable.
On the days you plan to exercise, skip insulin shots in your arms and legs -- use another injection spot. And avoid working out when the insulin is in its peak action time. Talk to your doctor about your peak time, because it varies.
For most people, a blood sugar level between 100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL is an OK pre-workout range. Use this guide to help you respond to other results.
If your blood sugar is:
- Lower than 100 mg/dL: Have a snack with carbs, like fruit or crackers.
- 250 mg/dL or higher: Test for ketones, the compounds your body makes when it doesn't have enough insulin. Being active when ketones are high can make you ill.
- 300 mg/dL: Wait to exercise until your blood sugar drops.
Stop exercising if:
- You feel shaky, anxious, weak, or confused.
- You sweat more than usual.
- Your heart is racing.
- You have a headache.
These could be signs that your sugar is dropping or low, and they can happen during exercise or several hours after.