Regular exercise is good for everyone: It keeps the heart healthy and joints and muscles strong, and it helps to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol. For people with diabetes, exercise has the added benefits of lowering blood glucose levels and level of insulin resistance, the condition in which muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin.
If you’ve never been active or haven’t been in many years, starting an exercise program may seem intimidating. You may be worried about injuries or wonder how you will fit exercise into your daily routine. But almost anyone can get moving safely and find time to squeeze in some activity.
Because conditions such as high blood pressure and certain diabetes complications can make some activities less safe, people with diabetes are advised to see their doctor for a checkup before starting a formal exercise program or increasing their level of physical exertion. Once you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doctor, this list of resources, including books, Web sites, and government agencies, can help you take the next step. They provide a variety of tools for getting started with exercise, including guidance on how to do so safely.
ACTION PLAN FOR DIABETES
Your Guide to Controlling Blood Sugar
Darryl E. Barnes, MD
Champaign, Illinois, 2004
This book presents a holistic approach to balancing the various components of a diabetes treatment plan: good nutrition, healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, and medication. A long chapter on exercise reflects the author’s special interest in sports medicine and offers detailed information on incorporating more physical activity into your life. Numerous photographs are included to show the correct ways to stretch and perform resistance exercises.
DIABETIC ATHLETE’S HANDBOOK
Your Guide to Peak Performance
Sheri R. Colberg, PhD
Champaign, Illinois, 2009
Written primarily for athletes with diabetes — but with tips for beginning exercisers, as well — this book provides detailed information on maintaining blood glucose control while training. It has guidelines for specific types of activity, including endurance sports, “power” sports, fitness activities like aerobics and walking, and outdoor recreation. Also included are profiles and quotes from real people who have diabetes and are successfully staying fit.
SMALL STEPS, BIG REWARDS
Walking Your Way to Better Health
American Diabetes Association
Alexandria, Virginia, 2004
This book focuses on walking as a starting point for better physical health.
THE “I HATE TO EXERCISE” BOOK FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
Charlotte Hayes, MMSc, MS, RD, CDE
American Diabetes Association
Alexandria, Virginia, 2006
Aimed at people who find exercise difficult or who don’t enjoy it, this book focuses on integrating exercise into everyday life by making activities you already participate in a part of your physical fitness routine.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL THERAPY ASSOCIATION BOOK OF BODY MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
Marilyn Moffat, PT, PhD, FAPTA, and Steve Vickery
Round Stone Press, Inc., and American Physical Therapy Association
New York City, 1999
This book has three distinct parts: The first provides anatomical information and care tips for various parts of the body, such as the back, neck, shoulder, knee, etc. The second focuses on injury prevention and building endurance. And the third has illustrations and instructions for over 200 exercises, most of which can be done with no special equipment.
Online and in-person
AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION: FOOD & FITNESS
The Food & Fitness section of the ADA’s Web site includes sections on getting motivated to exercise, losing weight, and finding activities you enjoy. It encourages reasonable goal-setting and incorporating a fitness routine into a daily schedule.
CHILDREN WITH DIABETES: SPORTS CORNER
This section of the Children with Diabetes Web site offers a collection of sports and exercise-related articles covering such topics as pump use during exercise and working out while pregnant. There are also several interviews with athletes who have Type 1 diabetes.
DIABETES SELF-MANAGEMENT.COM: EXERCISE BLOG
The newest blog from DiabetesSelfManagement.com follows Joe Eldridge — a professional cyclist with Type 1 diabetes — as he trains to reach his goal of competing in the Tour de France. As part of Team Type 1 — a professional cycling team whose members have diabetes — Joe travels the world, all the while training for races, participating in humanitarian work, and helping to motivate and inspire those with diabetes. There are also many entries from current and previous bloggers in the Diabetes Self-Management Blog Exercise Archive.
FIT4D.COM: PERSONAL DIABETES COACHING
This Web site offers personalized diabetes coaching for a fee, including coaching on beginning an exercise program and meeting fitness goals. All of the site’s nutrition and fitness coaches are certified diabetes educators, and client–coach communication takes place by phone or e-mail.
5390 Main St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55421
Fax: (763) 571-5906
Collage Video tests exercise videos, reviews them, and selects the best to add to their catalogs and sell on their Web site. The site also includes short preview clips of the videos. Search for “diabetes” on the Web site, and you’ll find several options to choose from.
The YMCA offers exercise classes for people of all levels of fitness at branches across the United States (and internationally, as well). Membership costs vary from one YMCA to the next, and financial assistance is available for people who cannot afford membership or other program fees. Ask for details at your local branch. You can find your local YMCA by typing in your ZIP code on the home page.
NATIONAL DIABETES INFORMATION CLEARINGHOUSE (NDIC)
1 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3560
TTY: (866) 569-1162
Fax: (703) 738-4929
The NDIC offers a number of useful pages, including “What I need to know about Physical Activity and Diabetes”
(http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/index.htm), with sections on why people with diabetes need to be active and how to decide when and in what way to exercise. The page also has links to “Walking: A Step in the Right Direction” (http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/walking.htm), “Active at Any Size” (http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/active.htm), and “Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart” (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/pubs/pub_gen.htm). Contact the NDIC to order paper copies of these brochures.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING (NIA)
Building 31, Room 5C27
31 Center Drive, MSC 2292
Bethesda, MD 20892
TTY: (800) 222-4225
Fax: (301) 496-1072
The NIA offers several brochures on exercise. All can be read online, and some can be ordered (free) as paper copies. One, “Exercise and Physical Activity: Getting Fit For Life,” (http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/exercise.htm) provides safety tips for people new to physical activity and is available in English and Spanish. Another, “Exercise and Physical Fitness: Your Everyday Guide”
(http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/ExerciseGuide) explains why it’s important to be active and outlines a step-by-step process for starting a fitness routine, measuring progress, and rewarding success.
The US Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
SmallStep is a program dedicated to improving the general wellness and health of Americans. The exercise portion of the Web site has a Goals page that guides you through the process of setting fitness targets and an Activity Tracker that allows you to chart your progress. There are also links to local SmallStep programs and other government and to other fitness and nutrition Web sites.