Have you ever heard anyone tell you that exercising is bad for you? Believe it or not, many patients with diabetes are receiving this advice on diabetes forums and websites. While we were conducting research for our diabetes guide, we noticed that many people with and without diabetes saying that exercising can put a diabetic at risk of developing hypoglycemia, also referred to as a drop in blood sugar levels. Developing hypoglycemia is always a risk, whether you are exercising or not. The benefits of exercising far outweigh this minimal risk. Any doctor will tell you that you should be getting some form of exercise, whether you have diabetes or not.
It’s important to meet with your doctor to let them know you are trying to shed some pounds. He or she will help you mitigate the risks of developing hypoglycemia by determining a range your blood sugar levels should be at before and after your workout. You will need to test your blood sugar levels prior to working out and can’t proceed with your exercise program until you are within the normal range. My team did some research and came up with 5 additional tips to help you with your workout routine:
- Stretch and Warm Up- Everyone should stretch and do a light warm-up prior to starting an intense workout. This is especially important for patients with diabetes, because it will minimize the chances of a spike in blood sugar levels.
Wear comfortable footwear – Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing neuropathy, or a loss of feeling in their feet. Because of this, it’s important for patients with diabetes to wear shoes that fit their feet well. In addition to proper fitting shoes, diabetic socks can help prevent painful blisters from forming due to seams in the toes.
- Drink plenty of fluids- It’s important for everyone to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after their workout. However, did you know that managing blood sugar levels is more difficult when dehydrated? Don’t forget to drink at least an 8 oz. glass of water post workout to avoid dehydration later in the day.
- Wear a medical bracelet- In case your blood sugar levels drop and you need assistance, wear a medical bracelet so that others know you have diabetes. This will alert them that you might simply need an insulin injection or snack to be back to 100%
- Carry a snack- Continuing off the previous tip; always carry a snack with you. Should you feel a drop in blood sugar levels coming, stop your workout immediately and eat the snack. Do not continue your workout until your blood sugar levels are back within the range your doctor provided. Nothing is more important than your safety!
Don’t believe the rumors that patients with diabetes can’t participate in vigorous workouts. There are plenty of famous athletes that led successful careers in professional sports while battling diabetes, including the quarterback of the Chicago Bears, Jay Cutler. Other famous athletes include the great Walt Frazier who had a phenomenal NBA career and Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league baseball player. To get into shape to play professional sports, you need to be able to participate in vigorous workouts. If they can do it while fighting the battle against diabetes, you can too!