What To Ask Your Doctor (continued)
If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises this if you are over the age of 35. Even if you are under 35, this visit can help you. Your doctor will want to make sure you don't have heart disease. Also, if you have any other problems, you may need guidelines for safe exercise. Here are some tips for safe exercise.
- Look at the articles concerning diabetic complications and exercise. Copy them and talk with your doctor for individual guidance.
- Check your feet after exercise. Look for blisters, sores, or other problems. If any foot problems occur, talk or see your doctor before you exercise again.
- Test your blood sugar before exercise. If it is below 100 mg/dl, eat a carbohydrate snack like a small piece of fruit or 4-6 crackers. If the exercise lasts more than 30-60 minutes, you may even need a snack during exercise. These steps can prevent low blood sugar. Check your blood sugar after exercise to learn how your body responds.
- If you exercise 1-3 hours after eating, your risk of low blood sugar is less.
- If you take insulin, ask your doctor about cutting your dose before exercise to help prevent low blood sugars.
- Be ready for low blood sugar. Carry quick carbohydrates (such as glucose tablets, juice or hard candy) with you.
- If your blood sugar is above 250 mg/dl and you have ketones in your urine, do not exercise until the ketones are negative.
- If you exercise outdoors by yourself, let someone know your exercise plan, route and return time.
- Wear an ID bracelet, necklace or shoe tag that says you have diabetes.
- Tell your exercise buddies that you have diabetes. And teach them how to recognize and treat low blood sugar.
- If you suffer any pain or other strange symptoms during or after exercise, let your doctor know.
Diabetes or not, exercise can put you at risk for injury. Even though exercise is good for most people, it poses some risks. Here are some tips to prevent injury:
- Start your exercise program slowly. Think of a realistic plan to start, and then build up step by step. Stay away from hard, high impact movements. Walking, swimming, water classes, chair dancing, and cycling are good starter exercises.
- Warm up before each exercise session. Walk slowly or do a slow version of the exercise you plan to do. Do this again in your cool down at the end of your workout. Then, gently stretch the muscles you have just worked out. These steps can prevent muscle pain or damage.
- If you are using exercise equipment, make sure you know how to use it. If you are starting a new sport, learn the correct movements. It may be a good idea to take lessons. This may help prevent back problems or other sport injuries.
- Remember to breathe! Holding your breath can increase your blood pressure. If you count out-loud when weight lifting or stretching you cannot hold your breath.
- Drink enough water. Drink before, during and after exercise. Carry a water bottle or strap it around your waist.
- Plan for safety and comfort. If you will be walking outdoors, make sure you wear clothing that is right for the weather (keeps you cool and dry).
- Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures.
- Protect your feet.
- Buy protective safety gear. For instance, wear a helmet if you plan to bike outdoors. Reflective gear if exercising in the dark.
- Stop if you feel pain, get shaky or get dizzy.