Beginning an exercise routine is hard for anyone because you have to force yourself to do something new which may not be very easy at first. After 2 weeks you may begin to be addicted to your workout, which helps, but now have to worry about staying motivated. Staying motivated when the diabetes complicates things is even harder.
The year I got diabetes I played soccer, basketball, and softball recreationally year round and since then have stayed very active despite the diabetes. After all these years of experience I have learned a lot on how to manage the diabetes in conjunction with exercise.
Here are a few tips to keep exercise simple and therefore maintain your diabetes control uncomplicated:
1. Exercise at the same time every day
This may be hard to do but, if you make your greatest effort to stay on schedule you will fall into a predictable pattern for your diabetes control to follow. If you exercise at random times you will have to be tweaking your insulin needs constantly or deal with random lows. Not only is this discouraging to routine exercise but, random lows in the middle of the night can be very dangerous as well.
So strive for committed exercise at the same time every day. This will also encourage making exercise a habit-and its always easier to do something that is a habit right?
2. Check before and after exercise
Make sure you do this. Check before so you know you are ready to begin safely. Check after so that you know the impact your workout or activity has had on your blood sugar. This is also the best way to learn. Soon you will be able to predict what will happen and be better prepared for it.
For example I used to do 10 minutes of yoga, run 3 miles, and then stretch for 5 minutes. I found out quickly I would need about 6 oz of juice during my workout to keep my glucose level from bottoming out. I would mix this juice with water in a bottle and sip throughout my 3 mile run.
This routine worked great for me. You must find out what works for you or exercise will likely be a pain you won’t want to support for long.
3. Eat after working out, not before
This is because if you give insulin before working out, say within 2 hours before your workout, you will have that insulin to possibly contend with during your workout. We often give a little too much or too little insulin to cover meals and so you risk either getting low during exercise or getting high-both of which hinder your efforts.
So there it is, 3 tips to get you started with exercise as a diabetic. Try out different times of day for exercise and then stick to what works-you will get a lot less headaches that way and you will most likely keep exercising.
Exercise is super important for diabetics. Anything that supports you doing it is a good thing.
Oh and when you are done, treat yourself to a bubble bath or your favorite TV show. As tempting as it is, don’t treat yourself with ice cream. I speak from personal experience on that one.
Good luck sweating!