The American Diabetes Association predicts that 95% of patients who have diabetes have type 2 (the other 5% have either type 1 or type 1.5 diabetes). Roughly 80% of patients with type 2 diabetes can reduce, or even eliminate their dependency on insulin, by making lifestyle choices that promote weight loss. Despite this knowledge, many believe that people with diabetes should avoid strenuous workouts due to the risk of hypoglycemia (having low blood sugar levels). While hypoglycemia is always a risk, the benefits of exercising far outweigh this risk.
Tips for Diabetics who Work Out
Before starting any exercise program, it is important to meet with your doctor to discuss your weight loss goals. There are several health conditions that often accompany diabetes, so you need to make sure you are healthy enough for vigorous exercise programs. Your doctor can help you determine a range within which your blood sugar levels should be, pre and post your workout session. It is critical to avoid any type of exercise routine when your blood sugar levels are not within the range your doctor gave you; otherwise hypoglycemia is likely to occur.
As you start your exercises, here are a few tips to ensure you have a safe workout session:
- Drink water: It is important for everyone to drink water while working out, to help rehydrate muscles. However, managing blood sugar levels can be much more difficult when you are dehydrated. It is especially important for people with diabetes to drink plenty of water before, during, and after their workout
- Wear proper shoes and socks: While everyone needs to wear proper footwear, it is essentially important for patients with diabetes to do so. A common condition that goes with diabetes is neuropathy, which involves a loss of feeling to the feet. It is important to wear shoes that fit well and diabetic socks that don’t have seams to prevent blisters and sores from forming.
- Take note of the temperature around you: Pay particular attention to the temperature where you are working out, as it can affect the way your body absorbs insulin. If it’s really hot, it is important to drink extra fluid to prevent dehydration.
Lastly, when you are a diabetic, it is extremely critical to carry a snack with you, should you feel your blood sugar levels are starting to drop. If this occurs, stop your workout immediately, and have your snack with a drink. Even if you are only a few minutes away from finishing your workout, you need to put your safety first! Wait until your blood sugar levels are back to the normal range your doctor prescribed, before continuing your workout session.
These tips should help with your weight loss goals and hopefully enable you to gradually reduce (or eliminate) your dependency on insulin.
About the author: Adam is a health nut and enjoys working out when he isn’t busy at work. He also helps provide diabetes information to those just learning about the disease. When he isn’t busy at work, he enjoys trying new healthy recipes and restaurants.