by ROAD iD Staff December 18, 2020

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As of 2018, 10.5 percent of the American population lives with diabetes. If you’re one of those 34.2 million Americans, you understand the challenges that come with a diabetic lifestyle, from managing blood sugar to altering your diet to avoiding fatigue. You might also know the struggles that come with getting enough exercise.

Diabetics, unfortunately, struggle to get exercise due to their health condition, worried their blood sugar might drop too low during activity. But it can be approached safely. Whether it’s tracking your blood sugar or wearing a medical alert bracelet while hiking, you can exercise while being mindful of your condition. 

Safely Exercising While Living with Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends regular exercise for people living with both Type 1 and 2 diabetes, as it can help balance blood sugar levels and maintain overall health. Having diabetes requires forethought prior to working out, though, as you’ll have to consider your blood sugar throughout. 

1. Maintain regularity.

The best approach to exercise for diabetics is to eat meals and work out at the same time every day and check your blood sugar before, during and after exercise. This allows you to experiment, determining how the intensity and duration of the activity affect your blood sugar level. The results can help you make changes along the way, whether that’s eating more carbs in the morning or lowering your insulin dose.  

2. Eat a small snack before working out.

If you notice your blood sugar is low before a workout (less than 100 mg/dl), eat a small carbohydrate snack within 15 minutes of working out. This is especially important if you plan on exercising for longer than 30 minutes. Anything over that time will require endurance exercise snacks once every 15 to 30 minutes. 

3. Pace yourself. 

If you feel burnt out, nauseous, faint or short of breath during a workout, you might be outpacing yourself. Slow up, cool down and stop if you notice any of these symptoms. If they go away with time, consider restarting your workout after a break, albeit at a calmer pace. 

4. Do what you can. 

Remember that hard workouts aren’t the only way to remain healthy! Sit less throughout the day. You can even break up your day with multiple short walks. Whatever the movement is, it can help lower your blood sugar. 

Top Exercises for Managing Blood Sugar and Improving Health

The ADA recommends getting at least 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. What does vigorous aerobic exercise look like? Examples include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Light running/jogging
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Aerobic dance

But you’re not limited to exercises that require you to physically accumulate distance, whether jogging your neighborhood loop or swimming laps in the community pool. 

Other beneficial activities include weightlifting, calisthenics, Pilates, yoga and resistance training. You can even incorporate these exercises into a cross-training routine that focuses on total strength and conditioning. This could look like: 

  • Monday: A 30-minute walk and 20-minute yoga session
  • Tuesday: A 20-minute walk and 20-minute weight-training session
  • Wednesday: 30 minutes lightly jogging
  • Thursday: A 20-minute walk and 20-minute weight-training session
  • Friday: A 30-minute walk and 20-minute yoga session
  • Saturday: A slow one-hour hike
  • Sunday: Rest

Don’t jump right into the above plan if you haven’t been working out regularly. Always pace yourself, moving at a pace that makes you active without being uncomfortable. And remember to warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise to protect your muscles. 

 diabetic test health equipment

Source: siam.pukkato/Shutterstock

Must-Have Safety Accessories 

Whether you’re working out at home, the gym or outside, you should have basic safety devices on you at all times. If you’re outside of the house, whether at the gym, on the road or on the trails, carry your accessories in a secured fanny pack or backpack to guarantee they’re always within reach. 

Here are some must-have accessories to have stored away or worn on your person: 

  • Carbohydrate-heavy snacks and sports drinks
  • Water
  • Insulin
  • Insulin delivery device
  • Fast-acting glucose
  • Glucose meter
  • Insulin pump (if you rely on one)
  • Medical alert bracelet

Why You Need a Diabetes Bracelet and When You Should Wear It 

What is a medical alert bracelet for diabetes? These bracelets are an accessory worn by diabetics that provides crucial medical information to first responders, health professionals and concerned bystanders. 

Stretch Medical ID

Stretch Medical ID

Diabetic bracelets are comfortable and customizable, allowing wearers to list personal information like:

  • First and last name 
  • Address
  • Primary emergency contact name and phone number
  • Allergies
  • Medications
  • Blood Type
  • Whether you’re a type 1 or type 2 diabetic

While we recommend wearing this bracelet every day, you should definitely wear it when working, working out, doing chores, etc. 

Exercise for diabetics is important, but low blood sugar can strike at any time. While you can take precautions, such as checking your blood sugar pre-workout, pacing yourself and carrying extra food, there’s always a chance of something happening. Our medical ID bracelets provide you with an extra layer of protection, allowing you to store relevant medical information on your wrist in the event of an emergency. 

Search for the diabetic bracelets that fit your style and customize one for your medical needs. The right bracelet will feel like an extension of yourself, making it easy to throw on before every workout and difficult to take off. 

Shop Our Collection of Diabetic Bracelets