According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, almost 26 million Americans have diabetes. Of those, it's estimated that 90-95% have Type 2 diabetes, the type in which your body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces and can no longer efficiently manage your blood sugar levels.
Exercise and physical activity are almost always included in a treatment plan for Type 2 diabetics because regular exercise offers so many benefits: from improving your insulin sensitivity, to lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.
But before you begin a workout program to help you manage your Type 2 diabetes, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Check with your doctor first! Always get your doctor's ok before you begin an exercise program. He or she will recommend an appropriate program and will monitor you for any issues that would contraindicate exercise.
- Check your blood sugar before and after you exercise. Exercise can have immediate and long-lasting effect on your blood sugar, so be sure you know your numbers and don't let your blood sugar drop too low. It's usually safest for diabetics to exercise one to two hours after a meal and never on an empty stomach.
- Take special care of your feet. Because poor circulation can be a problem for diabetics, you'll want to wear good fitting shoes and socks and monitor your feet for sores or blisters.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can affect your blood sugar levels, so be sure to drink water before, during and after you exercise.
- Keep a snack on hand. Because exercise can impact your blood sugar quickly, be sure to keep a fast-acting snack ready when you exercise in case you experience hypoglycemia.
- Know when to stop. If you have any of these symptoms, stop right away:
- You feel faint or dizzy
- You have difficulty breathing
- You have an irregular heartbeat or you feel your heart racing
- You experience nausea or vomiting
- You feel extreme fatigue.
Regular exercise for type 2 diabetics can help you manage your blood sugar levels and prevent some of the serious health risks that come with diabetes. So by all means, get moving--just be sure you use your good sense and stay safe.(photo credit: Joel Washing)