work especially closely with your doctor to find the right balance of exercise, diet, and medications.
No matter how careful they are, people with type 1 diabetes should expect a few setbacks. Their sugar levels might crash unexpectedly, briefly putting them back on the sidelines.
“With all of my book smarts and experience, sometimes things don’t work out like they should,” Wayne says. “But tomorrow is a clean slate.”
Any diabetic who exercises should carry glucose tablets or some equivalent, such as Lifesavers, in case sugar level drops unexpectedly.
If you’re having trouble controlling your blood sugar during exercise, your doctor may refer you to an exercise physiologist who is specially trained to treat diabetics.
What other precautions should you take?
Your doctor or exercise physiologist can give you safety tips for your particular workouts. Here are a few general guidelines:
Warm-up with five to 10 minutes of gentle stretching and five to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity (such as walking or jogging in place).
Proper footwear is essential, especially if you have poor circulation or numbness in your feet. A gel insert and polyester or poly-blend socks will help keep your feet comfortable, dry, and blister-free.
Check your feet carefully for blisters and other sores before and after exercise.
Dehydration can affect your sugar levels, so be sure to get plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. Water is often an excellent choice. Your doctor may suggest taking along some fruit juice or sugary sports drink if you’re at risk for low blood sugar.
Wear a diabetes identification bracelet or tag. This precaution is especially important if there’s a chance you could lose consciousness from hypoglycemia.
People with diabetes are just like everyone else — if they’re not used to breaking a sweat, it can be very hard to get started. Wayne motivates her clients by having them check their blood sugar before and after a walk.
“When they see the numbers drop, it really clicks,” she says.
If they’re still having trouble taking that first step, she encourages them to find a friend or family member who’ll walk or jog or ride bikes with them. It’s much easier to stick to an exercise routine if you don’t have to do it alone.
Exercise isn’t a miracle cure, but it’s still one of the best things you can do for your body. So talk to your doctor, get moving, and have fun.