If you have diabetes, you probably know the warning signs of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. "It's been described best as a little like the feeling you get when you're sliding on ice in a car: panic, rapid heart rate, [and] sort of a sense of doom," says John Buse, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, chief of the division of endocrinology, and executive associate dean for clinical research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
You also probably know that hypoglycemia...
"People just think it's this overwhelming thing, and they can't get started, but once they do and they're successful, it does become part of their life," says Karen Kemmis, DPT, a certified diabetes educator at SUNY Upstate Medical University. "A lot of people find they feel so good after they exercise."
Exercise does more than make you feel stronger and give you energy. It also helps insulin work better in your body.
Before you start, talk to your doctor, especially if you have complications from diabetes. Once you get the go-ahead:
Set goals. Think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to play with your kids or grandchildren without huffing and puffing? Is your focus on losing weight and getting fit? Do you want to have less pain or improve your blood sugar levels?
Write down your goals so you can look at them when you're tempted to stay in bed or watch TV.
Start slowly. Begin with 5 to 10 minutes at a time. As you get stronger, go longer or do it more than once a day. Work toward 150 minutes a week. Try not to go more than 2 days in a row without exercise.
Do a combo of activity that gets your heart pumping, like swimming and jogging. Also, try strength training, like lifting weights or using resistance bands.
Listen to your body. If you have pain during one exercise, switch to something else. If walking hurts your back, knees, or feet, try a stationary bike or water aerobics.
Your diabetes educator, physical therapist, or doctor can help find something that works for you.
Find a comfortable place. If you're self-conscious about going to the gym, look for a program where you'll feel like you fit in. Check out your local community center or an exercise facility that attracts people you'd feel comfortable working out with.