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Exercise Guideline
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Foot Care

Diabetics need Exercise:

  • To help control blood sugar
  • To strengthen their bodies
  • To improve the Health of their hearts
  • To improve their circulation
  • To control their weight
  • To improve their appearance
  • To help relax

Though exercise is good for everyone-young and old, it is especially beneficial for diabetics. Health care specialists have found that even a little exercise can make a big difference in your overall condition.

Exercise will lower blood glucose levels, so you should monitor your blood glucose levels before and after you exercise. You should do this untill you can predict how your body will react. People with heart Problems should exercise only with professional supervision.

Exercise strengthens the heart, increases the "good" cholesterol, and reduces stress for everyone. For those with diabetes, it can improve the muscles' ability to respond to insulin, which helps more glucose get into the cells. If that happens on a regular basis, glucose "control"; should improve.

Walking is a favorite exercise for many. You can start slowly, perhaps 20 minutes four times a week, and work up to "power striding", a fast-paced walk with hand weights and swinging arms. You should check with a health care professional before undertaking any exercise program to get advice about the best kind of exercise for you, and for specific instructions about adjustments in your food and medication.

Before starting your exercise program consider these points

Obtain your physician's approval Choose an exercise that is realistic for your age and condition. Mild daily exercise is more beneficial than a weekend of exertion followed by a week of inactivity.
Start slowly. Gradually increase to a more strenuous activity level. For example: start with a leisurely walk and later work up to a brisk pace Eat a small snack of carbohydrate food about a half hour before exercise. Examples include fruit juice or soda crackers
Exercise with a friend. You will find that company makes exercise more fun. If you are taking insulin, advise your friend how to handle a possible insulin reaction. Carry diabetic identification or wear a bracelet or necklace that identifies you as having diabetes.
Be sure your diabetes is in good control before exercising. Inject insulin into a non-exercising area of your body. Muscular activity in an exercised limb may cause insulin to be absorbed too quickly and result in an insulin reaction.
Always carry a simple carbohydrate, such as hard candy or sugar cubes in case of an insulin reaction.

If you have a hard time getting motivated to start an exercise program, try to get a friend to join you. You can encourage each other. You may meet someone in an exercise class who will be willing to call you ahead of time to urge you to come, even if you do not feel like it. You may have heard that once people "get into it", they really like exercise. Certainly that does seem to be true for many, especially if they find something they enjoy doing and if they like the people they are doing it with. If you decide to exercise alone, be sure to carry some carbohydrates, your diabetes identification, and some money with you.

For more information call: American Diabetes Association, 800-232-3472.

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