The 10 Best Exercise Tips for People With Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to watch what you eat and drink. Type 2 diabetes affects the way your body processes the sugars in the foods and drinks you consume. That includes processed or refined sugars, as well as the sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Keeping track of what you eat is an important part of managing your diabetes, and it can also help regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels.

But as important as your diet is, it’s just one way you can manage your disease. Exercise is another important part of type 2 diabetes management, helping you maintain a healthy weight and ramp up your metabolism so blood sugar levels stay stable. If you have type 2 diabetes and you’d like to add exercise to your care routine, these 10 tips can help ensure you get the most from your activities.

  1. Check with your doctor. Before starting any new exercise or physical activity, it’s important to get the “OK” from your doctor. That’s true for anyone, including people who don’t have diabetes.
  2. Keep an eye on your glucose levels. Ask your doctor if you need to monitor your blood sugar before your workout, and how often you should check it during your routine to keep your glucose levels stable.
  3. Have some carbs on hand. Keep some juice, a piece of fruit, or another carb source with you in case your blood sugar drops during your routine. 
  4. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps your body stay cool during strenuous workouts, and it also provides the lubrication your muscles need to stay active and prevent cramping. Never drink energy drinks without asking your doctor first, since these can contain a lot of sugar.
  5. Start slowly. If you’re starting a new routine or if you’ve been relatively sedentary, it’s a good idea to start out slowly so you don’t strain or injure yourself. Use fewer reps to start, or aim for 10 minutes of exercise to begin with, increasing to 30 minutes or more over time.
  6. Pick activities you like. It’s a lot easier to exercise when you enjoy what you’re doing. All too often, people tend to think of exercise in terms of their high school gym class, or they think they need to work up a major sweat in order to reap the benefits. In fact, even moderate exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help you lose weight and improve circulation. It can also reduce your risk of heart disease, which tends to be more common among people with diabetes.
  7. Throw in some strength training. Lifting weights can help reduce blood sugar levels, and you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to reap the rewards. Use light weights to avoid injuring your muscles, or try exercise or resistance bands. You can also try isometric exercises that use your body’s own weight to improve endurance and strength.
  8. Don’t overdo it. No matter how active you may be, you can still get injured if you don’t listen to your body. If you start to feel pain or notice unusual symptoms, stop right away and give your body time to recover.
  9. Choose a public spot. If you’ve got an exercise partner who knows you have diabetes, that’s great. If you don’t, working out in public helps ensure you’ll get the help you need if you have a problem. Wear a medical bracelet or keep an ID card on you that lets medical personnel know you have diabetes. 
  10. Invest in some high-quality footwear. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and interfere with your circulation, and your feet are especially prone to developing related problems. Some people with diabetes are more prone to foot problems, including sores that can take a long time to heal. Choosing shoes that fit well and that are designed for your specific activity can help reduce the risks of sores, blisters, and other problems so you can prevent potentially dangerous infections. Plus, when your feet feel good, your whole exercise routine can be a lot more pleasant.

At Nevada Family Care, we help people with diabetes control their symptoms and enjoy better health overall. If you have diabetes, having regular checkups is important for staying healthy. To schedule your visit or to find out about the diabetes management options we offer, book an appointment online today.

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