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ARTICLE OF THE MONTH

EXERCISE—NOT A PROBLEM!

Exercise Tips for Diabetics

By: MARIA PRINCESS LANDICHO-KANAPI, MD

Internist-Endocrinologist

Exercise, one of the hardest non-drug treatments for patients with diabetes to follow.Come to think of it, perhaps only 20% of my diabetic patients stick to regular exercise. About 50% would do it on a not so regular basis and the rest of my patients continue to be couch potatoes even when I regularly advise them to move it, move it move it! They depend on the medications I prescribe and of course, after a few months or years, the need to increase the dosage or number of their medications is inevitable. But for the 20% who exercise regularly, oh boy, they are controlled in 3 to 6 months’ time and I decrease their medications on their next visits.

To help you exercise regularly, here are 7 tips to boost and empower you.

  1. Be determined.
  2. You have to set your mind, body and soul that you would start exercising. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Start as soon as possible. Start today if you can! Exercise is a commitment and has to be done regularly. At the minimum, 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minute per week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity would work wonders. Muscle strengthening activities such as resistance exercise may also be done in combination with aerobic exercise 2 or more times per week.
    I always let my patients realize that there are 24 hours in a day and I would only ask for 30-45 minutes every other day for them to allot for physical activities.

  3. Be prepared.
  4. Sleep early especially if you would schedule your routine exercise in the morning. You have to have that much needed energy to sweat it out! Prepare the work-out clothes you would need the night before. Make sure that your clothes are light, not so tight and that your skin can breathe beneath the garment. A good pair of rubber shoes would help a lot! You don’t want to have blisters at the end of your day 1 of exercise.

  5. Have an exercise buddy.
  6. You would surely enjoy exercise in the company of your better half, sibling, best friend, officemates or even your parents! Someone who could motivate and support you in conquering diabetes would be your best exercise buddy!

  7. Eat a light meal an hour before the exercise.
  8. Eating a light meal prior to exercise would ensure that your blood glucose would not drop. And don’t forget to hydrate before, during after exercise.

  9. Determine the type of exercise that is most suitable for you.
  10. If you are a newbie, you may start with short periods of low intensity exercise such as brisk walking. Your physical activity level is light if you are breathing normally, are not sweating and can talk normally or even sing.
    Once you get the hang of it, you can proceed to moderate intensity exercise. Your physical activity level is moderate if you are breathing quickly, yet you’re not out of breath, you are lightly sweating after about 10 minutes of activity and you can talk normally, yet you can’t sing.
    You may proceed to vigorous or intense exercise after a few weeks. Your physical activity level is vigorous if you are breathing deeply and quickly, you are sweating after a few minutes of activity and you can’t talk normally without stopping for a breath.
    Make sure to consult your doctor on what exercise is appropriate for you especially if you have already acquired some complications of diabetes as there might be some limitations you need to know.

  11. Spice it up.
  12. There are so many ways to exercise and you are not limited to the gym! If you love sports then exercise can be in the form of playing basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, badminton, boxing and many more. If dancing is your thing, then you can join dance classes such as ballroom dancing, zumba, jazz, hip hop and the like. If you really are a gym buff, there are a number of new trends of exercising such as circuit training though the good old elliptical, treadmill exercise and light weights would still be good for you.

  13. It’s not for adults only.
  14. Children with diabetes or prediabetes should also be encouraged to engage in at least 60 min of physical activity each day. It can be in a form of play or sports. Whatever that would keep them on the move is a good exercise.

You would reap the benefits of your hard work after a few months of regular exercise and these includes the following: improvement of blood glucose control, reduction of cardiovascular risk like stroke and heart attack, weight loss, prevention of type 2 diabetes in high risk individuals, and improvement of one’s well-being. After 2 months of regular exercise, the average blood glucose called HBa1c could reduce by 0.66% even with no significant change in weight. Imagine the improvement of your blood glucose level after a year of exercise! You may be down to only a few tablets of medicines or significant decrease in insulin dosage if you are on injecting already.

Now that you know all of these, go out and be active!