Don't Let Diabetes Get In Your Way
Just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you have to sit on the sidelines. Get advice on what to consider and how to talk to your health care team about getting active.
- Talk to your health care team about which activities will be safe for you. Your health care provider’s advice will depend on the condition of your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, feet, and nervous system.
- Tell your provider if you have pain in your chest.
- Talk with your provider about joint or bone problems that make it difficult for you to exercise.
- Ask your provider about how increasing your activity level might impact any medicines you take for diabetes, blood pressure, and/or heart problems.
- Decide how you’ll keep track of your progress. You may find it motivating to write down what physical activity you’ve done each day. Some people enjoy using a pedometer to see how far they’ve walked.
- Choose what you’ll do and make detailed plans. Think about what activities are realistic for you and choose the ones you think you can do. Start slowly. Your activity should be somewhat challenging but not overly difficult.
- Plan to have water and snacks handy during activity. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity. If you are at risk for low blood glucose, always carry a source of carbohydrate to so you’ll be ready to treat low blood glucose.
- Wear a medical identification bracelet, necklace, or a medical ID tag to protect yourself in case of emergency.
Understand Your Blood Glucose Reaction
- Learn your blood glucose response to exercise. Checking your blood glucose before and after exercise can show you the benefits of activity. You also can use the results of your blood glucose checks to prevent low blood glucose or high blood glucose.
- If your blood glucose is high before you exercise (above 300), physical activity can make it go even higher, so be cautious about doing something active. For those with type 1 diabetes, if your fasting glucose level is above 250 and you have ketones in your urine, it’s best to avoid physical activity.
- Learn how to avoid low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). Keep in mind that low blood glucose can occur during or long after physical activity. Low blood glucose most likely occurs if you:
- Take insulin or diabetes pill
- Skip a meal
- Exercise a long time
- Exercise strenuously
- If low blood glucose is interfering with your exercise routine, eating a snack before you exercise or adjusting your medication may help. Talk to your health care team about what is right for you.
- Check your blood glucose right away and treat hypoglycemia if you need to.
- If you want to continue your workout, eat a snack, take a 15-minute break, and check to make sure your blood glucose has come back up above 100 mg/dl before starting back. If you start too soon, your blood glucose may drop again, quickly.
- Studies show that hypoglycemia is even more likely to occur 4–10 hours after you exercise than during the activity or shortly after.
For More Information
To get more information about diabetes, contact the American Diabetes Association:
- Call 1–800–DIABETES (342–2383).
- Ask for a free copy of the Diabetes Outcomes Card, order code 5984–03. It’s a wallet-sized card you can use to record your targets and track your progress.
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