For some, diabetes and exercise go together like peas and carrots, for others it’s not such a harmonious blend. What are the differences in those two groups of people? Usually, it’s in the planning aspect.
“The American Diabetes Association recommends a goal of at least two and a half hours per week of exercise for those with diabetes. My philosophy is that some is better than none,” says Dr. Goulden, M.D.,. from the UAMS Diabetes Clinic. “Beginning with a short 20-minute walk and building your way up is a good way to start. Whatever activity you choose, you will need to start off slowly. For those who have reached a high level of fitness before but have been inactive for quite some time, it is especially important to note that you cannot start off where you were. You will need to build yourself back up from the beginning. Always remember to warm up properly and stretch to help you prevent injury and keep you on your journey to health without interruptions. The four cornerstones for health for diabetics are: nutrition, monitoring/recording blood sugar, medication adherence and exercise. Of the four cornerstones, exercise is certainly very important.”
When you start an exercise plan, you should consider the following:
Quick save: Make sure that you have a quick sugar option just in case your blood sugar drops quickly. Most diabetics know what works best for them in this situation, but it is recommended to have something on hand for that quick sugar jump if you drop dangerously low. There are lots of tablets on the market now that are doctor recommended and sometimes juice or hard candy will work in a pinch until you can get some good calories on board.
Hydrate: Diabetics need to be certain that they are well hydrated when exercising. Sometimes, plain water is not enough when sweating heavily. To be hydrated, we need not only water but magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium to maintain our hydration levels. Most people reach for popular sports drinks, but diabetics need to stay away from drinks like these that are usually very high in sugar. Some sugar-free options of these drinks are: G2, Powerade Zero, Smart Water, Propel flavored water or plain Propel electrolyte water. Added electrolytes can help your body maintain its fluid balance and most find it surprising the difference in their energy levels when properly hydrated. Also keep in mind, the sodium in these drinks needs to be counted into your daily sodium intake.
Protect your feet: When starting a new work out program, it’s very important to keep your feet dry and to wear comfortable shoes that fit. There are several shoe stores in the Little Rock area that have staff to help you select your shoes based on your feet. You can also find blister-free socks in these stores to help you prevent wounds on your feet. Keeping your feet dry and in good shoes is more important than some realize because the blood flow to the feet can be decreased and slow down healing time. Pay close attention to blisters and other cuts or sores on your feet while exercising to avoid infection.
Prepare: Having your workout bag ready to go at a moment’s notice is a good idea. If you don’t need to go to a gym to exercise, keep a good pair of shoes by the door for a quick impromptu walk. Having what you need ready can help eliminate excuses we all have in our busy lives.
Plan: Know what you are going to do when you walk in the gym or start your workout at home. Having a plan will keep you on schedule and working towards your goals. Need help with a plan or wish to work out in a group setting? There are lots of personal trainers and group classes available. If you prefer staying home, there are many programs available online with the ability to connect to a coach and stay on a safe path.
Thanksgiving and diabetes
It’s important to take time and think about what you are putting on your plate this holiday season. Start filling your plate with protein first, veggies second and good whole grain carbohydrate sources. Keeping your blood sugar balanced can be really hard during the holiday season, so keep an eye on your plate balance. Feeling good and being able to enjoy your time with family and friends is important, so let’s try and not make food the focus this year!