Stay physically active while managing diabetes: Make a plan – Part 2

Just because you are diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being physically active. Make a physical activity plan based on what is realistic, then track your progress.

Thinking that a diagnosis of diabetes is an end to being physically active? Think again! If you or someone you love has diabetes that does not mean a lifetime of sitting back while others enjoy being physically active. However, there are some additional things to consider before you start or continue with your exercise plan. Before starting an exercise plan, it is important to speak with your health care provider. Once you have advice from him/her on what types of exercise is appropriate and safe for you, make your physical activity plan.

First, decide what types of activities you would like to do and what is realistic for you and then make detailed plans. Remember to start slowly; you want the activities you do to be somewhat challenging but not too difficult. It is easier to stick to a plan when you start slow and gradually increase frequency of days, intensity of activity or time spent being active instead of getting burnt out by doing too much too soon.

Next, figure out how you will track your progress. For example, if you choose walking as your activity, are you going to track that by distance traveled, minutes spent walking, or number of steps taken? You can keep an activity log to track your activities and progress. Individuals that make physical activity plans and track progress tend to maintain their exercise routines.

Lastly, keep safety in mind when you exercise. Keep water and snacks handy during physical activities and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after activities. Be prepared in case of low blood glucose by keeping a carbohydrate source nearby. Consider wearing some kind of medical identification jewelry, such as a bracelet or necklace, in case of an emergency.

The American Diabetes Association (1-800-DIABETES) has many resources to add more physical activity into your daily routine, including a free copy of A Guide to Changing Habits and a Diabetes Outcomes Card, which is a wallet card to record and track progress.

For more information, see the American Diabetes Association’s article “Don’t Let Diabetes Get In Your Way.”

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