Exercise and physical activity have many health benefits and can boost your mood and energy level, too. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start or how to stay motivated to stick with it. Here’s a guide for finding the right program for you.
Step 1. Check with your healthcare provider.
- Ask your healthcare provider about specific exercises that are recommended for you and any you need to avoid. For most people with diabetes, low-impact exercise such as walking, cycling, and water exercise, and activities that build muscle and strength, are recommended. Ask your healthcare provider about when is the best time of day for you to do physical activity based on your daily schedule, eating plan, and diabetes medicines.
- Find out about signs of low blood sugar you need to watch out for while exercising and what to do if you experience them. If you monitor your blood sugar, check it before and after exercising until you learn how your blood sugar responds to exercise.
Step 2. Recruit an exercise buddy to join you.
Having a friend, family member, or co-worker exercise with you can help you stick with it when you are feeling less motivated. Exercising with other people can make it a social activity, too.
Step 3. Think about what activities you like to do most.
If you like dancing, search for a community center or studio that hosts regular dances or look for an aerobics class or video that includes dance moves. If you enjoy being outdoors, you may want to make biking or walking part of your exercise program. If you are considering taking a class, check with the instructor or facility offering it to make sure it is appropriate for your health status and activity level.
Aim to mix up your routine so that you are doing some aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, and some muscle-building exercises , such as using light hand weights. Varying the type of exercise you do will also help prevent boredom.
Step 4. Consider cost and logistics.
If cost is an issue, seek out a low-cost or free community exercise program. Some community centers, city recreation centers, and hospitals offer fitness classes, and many schools open their pools to the public. Libraries often have exercise DVDs you can check out. If you do not have transportation, you can use free online exercise instructions and classes or create your own program by going for brisk daily walks and using inexpensive hand weights or resistance bands for strength training.
Step 5. Get ready and have supplies on hand.
Tell your exercise buddy and class instructors that you have diabetes, and be sure to wear your diabetes identification (bracelet, tag, card) while exercising. Always have fast-acting sources of sugar with you, such as juice or hard candy, and bring water, too. Carry emergency phone numbers with you, as well.
Step 6. Have fun feeling great!
You may feel tired or have sore muscles at first, but don’t let that discourage you. Try being active for 10 minutes at a time throughout the day, and build up your endurance over time. Once your body gets used to being active, you will probably notice you have more energy and a more positive mood from exercising.
Diabetes and Exercise, Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000083.htm
Exercising with Diabetes Complications, American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-started-safely/exercising-with-diabetes-complications.html
Fitness: Create a Program That’s Right for You, Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20044002
Get and Stay Fit, American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-and-stay-fit/staying-motivated.html
Tips to Help You Get Active, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:
What I Need to Know about Physical Activity and Diabetes, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/index.aspx