You’ve heard the advice: get active at least 30 minutes every day, as many days of the week as you can. But what if you’re short on time and the idea of the gym doesn’t thrill you? We've got some tips on getting active outside of the gym, along with a checklist for safe exercise when you have diabetes.
The benefits of exercise are endless, particularly for those with diabetes. Exercise can help you burn excess body fat, which not only helps with weight control, but also helps your body’s insulin sensitivity. It also helps relieve stress and boosts mood and overall health.
Aerobic exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease, a particular problem for people with diabetes. Resistance exercise helps build muscle, which is important for fat burning and glucose control.
Exercise Tips for a Healthier You
Exercise will help you control your diabetes and reduce the risk of complications from diabetes. There are a few things to keep in mind, however, to make sure you exercise safely:
- Get your doctor’s approval before starting an exercise program.
- Carry at least 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as a half-cup of fruit juice, 5 hard candies, or glucose tablets or gels that equal 15 grams, in case of low blood sugar.
- Wear well-fitting shoes appropriate to the activity you’re doing, and choose athletic polyester synthetic socks. They dry quicker and cause less friction than all-cotton socks.
- Inspect your feet before and after exercise, checking for blisters or sores.
- Drink plenty of fluid before, during, and after exercise
- Wear your medical identification bracelet or carry your ID in your pocket.
- Check your blood glucose level before and after exercise to make sure it’s in target range. Talk with your doctor and find out what your blood sugar needs to be before going out to exercise. This is especially important for anyone taking insulin.
- If you feel shaky, anxious, unusually sweaty, or feel a change in your heartbeat, stop exercising immediately and check your blood sugar. If it is low follow your doctor’s advice about how to treat low blood sugar.
- Always warm up for 5 to 10 minutes (slow walking, biking, etc) at the beginning of your workout and do 5 to 10 minutes of cool down and gentle stretches at the end of your workout.
Quick Gym-Free Workouts
Can’t afford a health club or personal trainer? That’s not a problem. Anything that gets your heart pumping and causes you to break a sweat will do. And here’s a little secret: You don’t have to do 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes after dinner is just fine.