Exercising with diabetes
Despite the seriousness of diabetes, if you are a sufferer, a carefully controlled exercise programme can significantly help your condition and improve the overall quality of your life.
In addition to the general health and fitness benefits that everyone enjoys from exercise, structured training will help your diabetes in a number of ways.
Exercising with diabetes can help:
Help control blood sugar
Help weight management
Help avoid further diabetes complications
Improve quality of life with diabetes
So, if you suffer from this disease, follow the realbuzz.com step-by-step guide to exercising with diabetes and improve your quality of life. This guide includes advice on:
How to kick-start your training programme
Correct training protocols
Safety first before exercise
Before you begin your exercise programme there are a couple of basic precautions that you should take. Once they’re completed, you’re ready to improve your fitness.
Get a check-up before exercising
Book a check-up with your doctor to discuss your plans. Your doctor will actively support your actions and will also be able to offer you further advice pertinent to your condition.
Get a professional
Next, to maximise the benefits of your training, it is wise to link up with an exercise professional who is qualified to advise you on training with diabetes. Time spent at this stage will reap continual rewards because focusing on the correct training for you will result in faster and long-term progression.
Now you’ve got the all clear to begin exercising, follow the realbuzz step-by-step guide to preparing for your exercise sessions.
Eating before exercise
Several hours before your session, eat a high carbohydrate, low fat meal that also contains protein. The exact time will depend on your own particular rate of digestion so experiment with different eating times to find out what suits you best. The addition of protein in your meal will help the ‘slow release’ of energy as opposed to energy peaks that will upset your insulin balance.
Additional eating for exercise
Between one hour before you exercise and actually starting, you may benefit from additional carbohydrate — typically up to 15 grams. Similar to your main meal, experiment to find out what is best for you.
Energy drinks for exercise
Throughout your workout, keep a sports energy drink close at hand in case you experience hypoglycaemia. A sports drink will be rapidly absorbed and is easily portable, whether your workout takes place in the gym or outdoors.
Wear identification when exercising
Always wear identification in the form of a wrist band, necklace or similar, detailing your condition, contact details and any instructions.
Think safety when exercising
For safety reasons and as a psychological boost, advise the gym staff and friends and family that you are exercising. This is particularly important at the start of your programme when your body is gearing up to the new challenge of exercise.
Injection alert before exercise
If you inject insulin, avoid injecting into the limbs that you are primarily going to exercise. The increased circulation in these areas that occurs with exercise may accelerate insulin absorption and could cause hypoglycaemia.
Foot care for exercise
Good foot-care is essential for diabetes sufferers and even more so regarding exercise. Careful choice of socks and training shoes is imperative, with due allowance for expansion as you get warmer. Avoid blisters and similar problems at all costs.
Impact alert when exercising
Similarly, avoid excessive impact activities such as running, which could damage your feet and cause subsequent infections and problems.
The exercise prescription for a diabetes sufferer follows the basic training protocols that are applicable to everyone, including: warm-up, main session and cool-down but with a focus on daily training — ideally every day, so that eating and insulin levels are consistent.
Workout at a very comfortable level of intensity, always low impact. Swimming, cycling, even surface walking and the gym cross-trainer are ideal. Aim for a session at least every other day and ideally, build up to daily training — progressing to a minimum of 20 minutes for each workout.
Focus on lighter weights and higher repetitions, and take as much recovery time between sets as you feel you need. One or two weekly sessions can significantly improve your strength, and combined with aerobic training will bring both variety to your sessions and a consistent workout each day.
Diabetes is not a total barrier to exercise and in fact exercise can actually help your condition with more consistent insulin levels and many other benefits. By following the guidelines above, not only can you take more control of your condition but you will also enjoy a whole host of exercise benefits including easier weight management, better all-round health and more energy.
Diabetes and exercise can go together providing you take sensible precautions and will add a new dimension to your life that you may have thought would elude you. After all, five times Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave has shown that the condition is no barrier to success at the very highest level.