Q. Why is exercise important for people
A. Exercise is beneficial to the health of
people with both types of diabetes in two ways. First, exercise
can take some glucose out of the blood to use for energy during
and after exercise, which lowers blood glucose levels. Second,
it helps delay or stop large blood vessel and heart
(cardiovascular) disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading
killer of people with diabetes. All people with diabetes should
exercise to counteract their increased risk of cardiovascular
disease, to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and to enjoy
themselves. An additional benefit for many people with diabetes
is that exercise, plus other healthy lifestyle habits, can help
them achieve good blood glucose control.
Q. How do I get started?
A. Your first steps toward a more active
lifestyle should begin with a thorough medical examination.
This is the only way to make sure your exercise program meets
your individual needs. One exercise program does not fit all.
Everyone is different, and your exercise plan needs to be based
on your health and your body's needs. Working with your doctor
will give you the confidence of knowing that you're doing all
you can to avoid the pitfalls and reap only the benefits of
Q. I always procrastinate when it comes to
exercise. How can I get motivated?
A. The first thing you should do is set
some realistic goals for yourself. For example, this might be
as simple as a walking program in which you walk around the
block for 15 minutes a day. Then you should gradually build up
your program and set new goals in order to stay motivated.
Q. Is it smart to exercise with someone
else, or should I exercise alone?
A. Exercising with a partner is an
excellent idea. When we exercise by ourselves we sometimes get
discouraged and lose interest. However, an exercise buddy often
provides the necessary encouragement and motivation to help us
Q. How can I keep from getting
A. The following tips can help you stick
with your exercise program:
Set a schedule and
keep it. Make the commitment to exercise just as you
would any other important appointment. Remember ... habits are
developed through practice.
Get a training
partner. We all have days when we are easily tempted to
skip our workout. You and your partner can be strong for each
other and strengthen your collective resolve. It also helps if
you and your partner have similar goals so that you can exercise
at the same level. A training partner who is aware of your
diabetes can also keep your exercise sessions safe for you.
Doing the same thing every time you exercise can get boring.
Many people alternate exercises daily. It's called
cross-training. This is a method in which you alternate forms
of exercise in order to prevent putting a specific strain on a
particular part of the body day after day. In other words, you
might ride a bicycle one day, walk the next, and swim another
day. It not only provides variety to your routine but it also
reduces the risk of injury, by letting your body rest and repair
between sessions which use the same muscles.
Setting specific goals for yourself and then evaluating how you
are doing with your goals is a great way to keep on track. But
goals can work against you, too. If you set a goal that is not
quickly attainable, you might get discouraged when you don't see
immediate progress. Be realistic in your goal-setting. Like
Rome, your healthier body cannot be built in one day.
One good way to keep your motivation high is to reward
yourself when you accomplish a goal. For example, decide that
if you meet this month's goal, you will reward yourself with
some new clothes, a CD, a new book - anything that will help
keep you committed. Another hint: do not use food as a
Q. Is it a good idea to drink fluids while
A. Drinking fluids while exercising is a
good idea. Actually you should try to drink something not only
during the exercise, but also before and after working out.
This helps prevent dehydration and helps to replenish the fluids
and nutrients your body loses during exercise. This is
especially important for people with diabetes. Therefore during
strenuous exercise, consider a high-glucose sports drink which
can help prevent your blood glucose from going too low.
Q. I am elderly and it is rather difficult
for me to get around. Should I still try to exercise?
A. You should try to exercise regardless
of your age. If it is difficult to get out, you can do various
stretches in your home, some even while sitting down. As our
bodies age, warming up with stretching exercises becomes more
and more important. You may find that after properly
stretching, you can do more than you thought you could.
Q. I have both diabetes and arthritis.
Can I still workout?
A. Yes you can, but try two things to make
exercising safer.One, make sure you stretch before all
exercises, and two, you should plan exercises which will
strengthen your muscles and make you feel better.
Q. What is the best way to gain
flexibility before I start working out?
A. The best way is to stretch as much as
possible to decrease tension in your muscles. Flexibility can
also help prevent injuries, so be sure to stretch plenty before
Types of Exercise
Q. Is there a limit to the types of
exercise a person with diabetes can do?
A. There is no limit to what people with
diabetes can do. Barring another medical condition, people with
diabetes can do anything and everything. You can walk or bike,
swim or hike for exercise. These are only examples. Everyone
is different, so be sure to ask your physician if you should
have any limits in your exercise program.
Q. If I workout at the gym, what is the
best machine I can use on a daily basis?
A. Stairsteppers and treadmills are
excellent machines to use at the gym. They simulate walking and
climbing which can help burn fat, build endurance, and
strengthen the cardiovascular system. Weight lifting can also
provide a great workout. The important thing is to find
something you enjoy, and exercise safely.
Q. What is the best exercise to improve my
blood glucose levels?
A. Walking seems to be excellent exercise
for a majority of people. Again, it is best to consult your
physician to tailor an exercise program to fit your particular
Q. As part of my workout, is it helpful to
ride a stationary bicycle?
A. Riding a stationary bicycle not only
gives you a great aerobic workout, but it also strengthens your
legs and helps build muscular endurance.
& Weight Loss
Q. If I lower my blood glucose level, is
there a possibility I could gain weight?
A. Yes, there is that possibility. To
decrease your chances of gaining weight, begin to exercise more
often and more intensely, and reduce the amount of food that you
eat. Consult your health care professional to adjust your diet
and exercise program accordingly.
Q. If I have diabetes, what is the most
effective way to lose weight?
A. Regular exercise and good nutrition are
key to weight loss. Regular exercise helps you lose weight by
burning calories and increasing your metabolism. Eating
well-balanced meals and controlling your caloric intake can also
further your weight loss efforts.
Q. If I want to lose weight, why can't I
just diet instead of exercising?
A. If you want to achieve permanent weight
loss, most diets don't work by themselves. A diet that
severely restricts calories is dangerous for anyone, especially
for those with diabetes. Exercise, combined with your diet
plan, helps maintain the weight loss and strengthens your body.
Exercise and type
Q. My child has diabetes. Can she still
A. Yes, it is good to let your children be
competitive and show their interests. If they enjoy sports,
tell them about professional athletes with diabetes such as NFL
Quarterback Wade Wilson or Olympic gold medal swimmer Gary Hall,
Jr. This can help show them that anything is possible, and that
if they pursue their dreams, anything can happen.
Q. What can my child get out of playing
sports if he or she has diabetes?
A. Playing sports can provide children
many benefits. It gives them a chance to make new friends,
develop physical confidence and it can improve their
self-esteem. As children with diabetes discover they can play
and be competitive with other children, it might improve their
outlook for their future.
Q. I have type 1 diabetes. How is
exercise different for me?
A. Exercise alone will not improve glucose
control in type 1 diabetes. Increased exercise should help keep
your weight under control with intensive management, but
hypoglycemia is a very real risk. Adding exercise to your
diabetes care plan will require the careful balance of food,
insulin, and physical activity. You and your health care team
should work together to find out what's best for you. There are
strategies to get good blood glucose control, and still let you
lead an active life that promotes fitness.
Q. How can I be sure to avoid injury while
A. You can do two things to prevent
injuries.One is to stretch before and after you exercise as a
way to warm-up and cool-down. Second, you should gradually
increase the intensity and duration of your exercise over many
weeks or months to be sure that you do not overdo it.
Q. How can I prevent low blood glucose at
night when I exercised that day?
A. You need to balance your insulin, your
food intake, and your exercise in order to have fewer low blood
glucose episodes at night. You should work with your physician
to maintain this balance.
Q. Type 2 diabetes runs in my family.
Does this mean I'm destined to develop diabetes?
A. No, exercise can help protect you from
ever developing type 2 diabetes . Regular exercise fights
insulin resistance and obesity, allowing people to avoid
developing diabetes in the first place.