How can I start to get more exercise if I have diabetes?

Bob Greene
Bob Greene on behalf of The Best Life
Increasing physical activity may seem difficult at first, but it's going to get easier, and you'll feel the rewards right away. You'll sleep better, feel better, and eventually even have more energy -- and you might see a drop in your blood sugar readings as well. You may feel more tired than usual at first, but once the training effect kicks in and your body adapts, you'll definitely feel more lively. Choose one or more types of aerobic exercise that you like; it could be walking, jogging, aerobic dance, spinning, salsa dancing, swimming, cycling, or kickboxing. Working out on machines such as treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, and elliptical trainers is a great way to go, too.

Start by putting in as much time as you can comfortably handle -- 15 minutes a session, three sessions a week if you can do it, less if you can't. Each week, add 2 minutes to your workouts until you reach 30 minutes per session; you'll then be meeting the 90-minutes-a-week minimum requirement. Consider getting a workout partner, too; having someone to whom you're accountable can really help keep you on track. If you prefer to count steps to satisfy the aerobic requirement, increase your steps per day, working up to over 6,000 daily.
The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

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The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

Bob Greene has helped millions of Americans become fit and healthy with his life-changing Best Life plan. Now, for the first time, Oprah's trusted expert on diet and fitness teams up with a leading...
If you have diabetes and you're not active, it's likely that you have at least one reason why. Perhaps you've never been very active. Maybe you're afraid your blood glucose will go too low. Think about what's keeping you from being active and then look into ways to overcome the barriers. Here are some barriers and solutions:

  • I've never been active -- Don't discount your everyday activities. You may do more than you realize, such as housekeeping or mowing the lawn. Remember -- being active is more than "exercise."

  • I don't have time to exercise for 30 minutes a day -- Do as much as you can. Every step counts. If you're just starting out, start with 10 minutes a day and add more little by little. Work up to 10 minutes at a time, three times a day.

  • I'm too tired after work -- Plan to do something active before work or during the day.

  • I don't have the right clothes -- Wear anything that's comfortable as long as you have shoes that fit well and socks that don't irritate your skin.

  • I'm too shy to exercise in a group -- Choose an activity you can do on your own, such as following along with an aerobics class on TV or going for a walk.

  • I don't want to have sore muscles -- Exercise shouldn't hurt if you go slowly at first. Choose something you can do without getting sore. Learn how to warm up and stretch before you do something active and how to cool down afterward.

  • I'm afraid I'll get low blood glucose -- If you're taking a medication that could cause low blood glucose, talk to your health care provider about ways to exercise safely.

  • Walking hurts my knees -- Try chair exercises or swimming.

  • It's too hot outside -- If it's too hot, too cold, or too humid, walk inside a school or a shopping center.

  • It's not safe to walk in my neighborhood -- Find an indoor activity, such as an exercise class at a community center.

  • I'm afraid I'll make my condition worse -- Get a checkup before planning your fitness routine. Learn what's safe for you to do.

  • I can't afford to join a fitness center or buy equipment -- Do something that doesn't require fancy equipment, such as walking or using cans of food for weights.

  • Exercise is boring -- Find something you enjoy doing. Try different activities on different days. Try exercising with a friend.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Like changes in eating, changes in moving need to be small and steady. Where to start depends on where you are at, but for many people, doing something as simple as parking your car farther away from stores where you shop, or parking farther away from the front door of the place where you work, is a great way to add some activity to your life. At first, increasing the amount you walk is hard, but the more you do, the better you’ll feel. Also, as your blood sugar begins to come down, you’re going to have more energy.

Taming the Tiger: Your first year with Diabetes

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Taming the Tiger: Your first year with Diabetes

If you ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, this book is for you! It is a fact. Getting a diagnosis of diabetes has the same impact on your body and soul as having a heart attack. Right now you are...