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Be sure to consult with your diabetes care team before starting any new exercise program.
1. Have a complete medical examination and obtain your physician’s approval before starting an exercise program. This is even more important if you have never exercised or if you want to increase the intensity of your workouts.
2. Consult with your diabetes educator about exercising safely. If your diabetes treatment plan includes insulin therapy or oral medications that increase insulin production, such as sulfonylureas, Prandin or Starlix, learn how to prevent hypoglycemia by adjusting your insulin dosages or eating snacks that contain carbohydrate. If you take medications for your diabetes that could cause hypoglycemia, be prepared to treat low blood glucose episodes by always carrying glucose tablets. Be sure to stay hydrated and carry a water bottle with you. And always wear your medical identification.
3. Get a good pair of running shoes that fit you well and are comfortable. If possible, get fitted for shoes at a store that specializes in fitting runners. Running shoes should usually be a half or full size larger than your street shoes to allow enough room for any swelling and prevent blisters. A good pair of shoes will help prevent frustrating and painful injuries. Expect to pay at least $75, but consider this price an investment in your feet, your knees and other joints as well as your overall health.
4. Allow enough time to enjoy your walk or jog. You will need at least one hour, including a 10- to 15-minute warm-up, a 30-minute walk or jog (work up to this level gradually) and a 5- to 10-minute cool-down.
5. Listen to your body. Know when you need to slow down or take a day off .
6. Try to alternate harder days with easier ones, and take a full day off each week for rest and recovery. The more times you exercise each week, the sooner you develop a healthy habit and achieve results.
7. Plan your course beforehand, keeping weather and terrain in mind. Begin your jog or walk into the wind and end up with the wind to your back, especially when it is cold. Jog at a running track or on dirt or asphalt running and bike paths; don’t run on sidewalks, as concrete is much harder than asphalt and is too jarring to the joints.
8. Dress appropriately. Wear light-colored clothing at night or attach reflective strips to your clothing and shoes. Clip a red bicycle light to your jacket. In hot and humid weather, the less clothes you can wear, the better. In cold weather, dress in layers that can be zipped off as your body temperature rises. The new high-tech fabrics used for workout clothing are great at keeping you dry and comfortable in warm or cold conditions.
9. Jog and walk defensively. Watch out for cars, potholes, dogs and their contributions, ice, mud and other hazards. Carry a few dollars, your identification and your cell phone for emergencies.
10. Set reasonable weekly goals and try to achieve them. Keeping a daily exercise log can help you meet your exercise goals.
Q. I can’t walk or run for 30 consecutive minutes. What should I do so I can eventually reach 30 minutes?
A. First of all, you can derive health and fitness benefits from three 10-minute sessions of exercise, so don’t beat yourself up if you cannot go for 30 minutes at a stretch. One technique is to add one to two minutes per week to your exercise, up to 30 minutes. It’s important to discuss this with your physician to be sure it is safe for you.