By Brenda Marty Jimenez, MHM, RDN, LDN, FAND, UF/IFAS Extension, Broward County, Extension Agent IV
Jeanna Rhoulhac, RDN, LD/N, CDCES: Nutritionist/Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Broward Health Community Health Services
Being active is an important part of staying healthy for individuals, families, and consumers. It gets your heart rate up, burns calories, and strengthens your muscles and bones. Everyone throughout the lifecycle should engage in healthy self-care behaviors including getting regular exercise and staying active. Best of all, being active can help people with diabetes or pre-diabetes:
- Lose body fat
- Get more fit
- Boost muscle strength and aerobic endurance
- Lower blood glucose
- Enhance mood
- Improve blood pressure and cholesterol
- Feel less stressed or anxious
- Reduce your chances of dying early https://bit.ly/38wH8FV
Exercise is a crucial component of diabetes management. Exercise may help:
- Improve blood sugar levels
- Boost overall fitness
- Manage weight
- Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Improve overall well-being.
Diabetes specialists, the American Diabetes Association, and registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionists, recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of movement per week. Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Aerobic activity such as brisk walking or general gardening can be done in episodes of at least 10 minutes and preferably be spread throughout the week. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/fitness/weekly-exercise-targets
Preparing to exercise
- Work with your healthcare team to design an exercise program specific to your individual needs
- Safety first! Test blood sugar before and after exercise. (Monitoring and checking blood sugar before and after exercise is very important, especially if the person with diabetes is taking insulin.)
- Avoid exercising when your blood sugar is high
- Wear proper fitting shoes with good support and wear cotton socks
- Be prepared to treat low blood sugar. Carry a fast-acting source of glucose in case you have a low blood sugar reaction. Glucose tablets and glucose gels are available for this purpose. You can carry them in a shirt, shorts or pant pocket with a zipper, a wrist band type exercise pouch, or in a gym bag.
- Use nonslip footwear in potentially slippery pool and beach areas
- Examine feet regularly for blisters, cuts, scrapes, redness and/or swelling
- Wear a diabetes alert necklace or bracelet in case of emergency (medical ID jewelry)
- Keep properly hydrated. Drink adequate amounts of water!
Examples of pre-exercise snacks
- Fresh fruit and crackers
- Greek yogurt with fresh berries
- A small apple with peanut butter
- Small handful of raisins and nuts
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-grain bread
*Amounts depend on your prescribed calorie level and meal pattern.
Tips to keep active and stay motivated
- Move more. Sit less. It’s up to you.
- Walk instead of driving to nearby destinations
- If driving, park a bit farther away from the door or entrance
- Get off the bus at a farther stop and walk the rest of the way
- If you have a dog, walk it daily, or offer to walk a neighbor, relative or friend’s dog
- Start or join a walking group in your neighborhood or at work. Always walk in safe neighborhoods and in well-lit areas.
- Walk with an accountability partner who will help keep you on track and reach your goals
- Keep up the momentum
- Practice positive self-talk about exercise
- Have fun!
Make exercise a priority! Always check with your healthcare provider about diabetes management, exercise guidelines, your specific meal pattern & daily calorie level, recommended blood sugar levels, and questions about managing your diabetes.
Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Keep moving for better health and management of your diabetes. Start walking more today and reap the benefits!
You can do it!
References and opportunity to learn more
UF/IFAS Extension, Healthy Living; Exercise and Diabetes https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FY669
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC). Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity
ADCES Self-Care Behaviors- Being Active, Healthy Eating, Taking Medication, Healthy Coping, Reducing Risks, Problem Solving, and Monitoring https://bit.ly/38vkihU
American Diabetes Association-The Benefits of Walking https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/fitness/benefits-walking
American Diabetes Association-With pre-diabetes action is the best medicine https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/prediabetes
National Diabetes Prevention Program Videos https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/videos.html
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