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Exercise Planning: Safety Comes First

Designing an Individualized Exercise Program

Whether a person has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it's important to find a regular exercise program that works. Before getting started on an exercise program, consider these precautions.

Work Closely With a Health Care Professional

Consult a health care provider before starting any exercise program. Here are some safety considerations a health care team will consider when designing a safe, individualized exercise plan.

Current Blood Sugar Control

Keep a regular diary of daily blood sugar readings and food intake. A health care team will determine changes in oral medicine or insulin dose, and/or if food intake needs to be adjusted.

Heart Health

People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease, especially those who haven't been exercising regular. If heart tests reveal a problem, the health care team will provide special guidance to minimize risk.

Diabetes-Associated Neuropathy

When nerve damage affects the feet, it is difficult to feel blisters or sores. People with neuropathy may be advised to choose activities less likely to cause blisters, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, instead of running or jogging.

Foot Examination

It is especially important for people with neuropathy to examine their feet regularly for sores or blisters. People with diabetes often experience slow wound healing. If wounds are found on the feet, exercise should be temporarily stopped or modified. Wearing socks and shoes that fit properly help prevent these types of wounds.

Learn the signs of low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia. These signs include shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, headache, pale skin color, sudden behavior changes, clumsy or jerky movements, confusion, and tingling sensations around the mouth.

Carry appropriate food, drink, or other carbohydrate sources such as 1/2 cup fruit juice, 1/2 banana, four to five snack crackers, or 1/2 to 1 cup sports drink.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise.

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