Why is a physical activity program important?
Physical activity is a tool to help manage your diabetes. It is a very important part of your diabetes treatment plan and can help you feel your healthiest. Physical activity is valuable because it can:
- Lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Raise HDL ("good cholesterol").
- Promote weight loss.
- Improve blood circulation.
- Help the body better use insulin.
- Reduce stress and make you feel better.
- Increase flexibility.
What do I need before beginning a physical activity program?
- Your doctor's permission before beginning a physical activity program.
- A physical activity you enjoy.
- Properly fitting shoes.
How often should I do the activity?
Start your activity slowly and increase gradually. Your goal should be to exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 days per week, or as recommended by your healthcare provider. A 30-minute session may be broken up into 3 10-minute sessions.
- To decrease the risk of low blood sugar, check your blood sugar before you begin your session. If it's over 250 mg/dl and ketones are present, delay the activity until your blood sugar levels are under 250. If your blood sugar is below 100, you might need a snack (1 carb) before beginning the activity.
- The best time for a session is 60 to 90 minutes after eating a meal.
- Check your feet for blisters/sores before and after any physical activity.
- If you take medicine that lowers blood sugar levels, carry a carbohydrate source such as glucose tablets or hard candy.
- Include a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and cool-down period.
- Drink water before, during, and after physical activity.
- Try to exercise with someone.
- Check your blood sugar after an activity. For some people, exercise can lower blood sugar for up to 24 hours.
- Carry diabetes identification.
- Carry a cell phone.
- Wear your medical alert tag.
- Bring your meter and testing supplies.
How to start
- Set realistic goals with the help of your healthcare provider.
- Make a plan. Identify ways to increase your physical activity.
- Go out of your way to be active and decrease inactivity.
Managing your weight
If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds can help lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. You will lessen the strain on your bones and joints and will feel better all the way around. Here are some tips to help you start managing your weight:
- Begin by keeping track of what, when, where, and how you eat now.
- Evaluate your willingness to change.
- Make a plan. Identify which habits you will change now and which ones you will change later.
Set realistic goals. For instance, a weight loss goal of a half-pound to 1 pound per week is reasonable.
Follow a healthy eating plan
- Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups.
- Avoid fad diets that eliminate whole groups of food.
- Eat smaller portions.
- Eat less fat.
- Avoid skipping meals.
- Exercise. Successful weight loss includes daily exercise.
- Keep it off. Make your new healthy eating and exercise changes a permanent way of life.