June 28, 2001
Exercise and Sports
Question from Kansasville, Wisconsin, USA:
I have diabetes and would like some more information on exercise. I do not like to do much of it, but know that I need to. Sometimes walking is hard because of my hip. If you have any ideas I would like to hear them.
As you are aware, exercise is one of the cornerstones of good health and has a role in both disease management and prevention. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone — most of us don’t do enough. Before you begin an exercise program, speak with your physician regarding clearance to do so. Persons with diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and screening after the age 35 (via an exercise stress test) is important. Your physician’s opinion on your hip discomfort is important as well. Seek his/her diagnosis and recommendation prior to beginning.
There are many options for exercise, and you may need to experiment to find which is right for you. If walking (weight bearing) causes you hip discomfort, you may find that biking (either upright or recumbent) or swimming work well. Although the goal will eventually be 20-60 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five times per week for cardiovascular fitness, you can start with just a 10 minute bout at three different times throughout the day. In terms of both caloric expenditure and increased insulin sensitivity, this is the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise. As your endurance increases you can move to continuous exercise for a longer duration. Remember that exercise does not have to feel “hard”. The key is to find something that you like to do, make a plan and a commitment, and then just do it!
Speak to a healthcare professional for some guidance regarding your diabetes management and perhaps referral to a knowledgeable exercise or fitness professional. Your local hospital may have a program to assist you in getting started, with a special focus on diabetes management with exercise. Find ways to keep yourself motivated — like exercising with a friend or family member, working out to your favorite music, joining a class, tracking your progress, or providing yourself non-food rewards as you reach your goals. Monitor your blood sugars so that you can see the difference that exercise makes. And also remember that activity counts too! Find ways to become more active throughout the day. Best of health to you as you make exercise and activity a part of your life.