Regular exercising can do a lot for your physical as well as emotional health, and it’s also an excellent way to keep your diabetes in check. However, before starting a new diabetes exercise program, always consult your diabetes care team for safe options and precautions. Certain activities may or may not be compatible with your health profile. Once you get the go-ahead to start on a diabetes fitness program, you’ll need the appropriate gear and guidance to ensure safe regimen. Here are some safety tips you can follow for safe exercise with diabetes:
- Wear a diabetes identification bracelet/ID tag/card: to ensure proper treatment and others can help you better in case of any emergency when you’re exercising or you have an injury.
- Learn your blood glucose response to exercise: Everyone’s blood glucose response to exercise is different. 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.
- Keep water and snack handy during activity: Keep yourself hydrated and have plenty of water before, during, and after activity. If you are at risk for low blood glucose, always carry a source of carbohydrate so you’ll be ready to treat low blood glucose.
- Beware of Low sugars: If you think you are having hypo, check your blood glucose right away and if it is low (less than 70 mg/dl) treat it immediately with 15 grams of simple carbs like 3 tsp sugar or glucose or 3-4 glucose tablets or biscuits or half glass juice or regular cold-drink. Check again after 15 minutes and if it is still below 100 mg/dl avoid exercising.
Some Quick Points to Prevent Low Blood Sugars
- Don’t go for exercise empty stomach or if have long gap between the two meals. If you plan than have a small snack before you start like a fruit, nuts, paneer sandwich or buttermilk etc.
- Longer or more intense exercise can cause your blood glucose to drop more than shorter or easier exercise. You may need to take some carbohydrate or small snack after 20-30 minutes of intense exercise.
- Blood glucose may continue to drop for several hours after activity and should be monitored and followed by small snack right after (depending on intensity) and meal after 1-2 hour.
- If you often have trouble with low blood glucose when you are active, eat a snack before exercise and review your glucose numbers with your healthcare provider to understand the effect of exercise on your sugars and how to manage/adjust your meals, medications according to it.
- Postpone your exercise session if you are sick, cold, cough or fever until you feel well
- Avoid exercise if blood glucose over 250 and ketones
- Be cautious during exercise; if blood glucose over 300 and no ketones. Check your blood glucose 15 minutes after you start. If it goes up, stop exercising and follow your doctor’s high blood glucose instructions.
- If you have diabetes complications related with eyes, heart, kidney or feet then follow your doctor’s advice.
Safety tips during exercise
Avoid any Injury
- Start your activity program gradually, and work up slowly. Exercising too much, too fast, can cause injuries.
- Use proper equipment’s, clothing and protective accessories for exercise to avoid any injuries like light and comfortable shoes with adequate cushioning or if cycling outdoors wear helmet
Take care of your feet
- As people with diabetes are more prone to foot related complications due to less sensitivity that’s why they must wear shoes that fit properly.
- Always inspect your feet after activity for blisters or sores.
Warm up and cool down is important
- Always warm up first and cool down after exercise to get ready for activity and prevent injuries.
- Move slowly and stretch for 5 to 10 minutes before and after your exercise session.
If you are not used to exercise
- Start slowly (5 to 10 minutes) and increase gradually up-to 30-60 minutes or more.
- Build up to 3 to 5 sessions per week.
Keep yourself hydrated
- Drink water, especially in hot weather, even if you are not thirsty.
- Have 15 to 20 ounces of water 30-60 minutes before a workout and then 12-15 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise.
- In Winters – prefer exercise during warmer part of a day; like late morning or early evening. Wear proper clothing to protect your body and feet from cold.
- In Summers – prefer activity during cooler and less humid part of the day like early morning or late evening. Wear light, comfortable and breathable clothing. Keep yourself hydrated. Be careful about heat exhaustion or sun-tan.
Note: People with diabetes should always talk to their health care provider before starting any exercise routine.