A blog by runners. For runners.

Running with diabetes

Running with diabetesDiabetes is a serious illness that can lead to other health problems, such as heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. But managing your diabetes well can reduce your risk of complications. It’s important to follow your diabetes care plan exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Treating diabetes usually involves taking medication, eating a nutritious diet, and getting regular physical activity. Aerobic exercise helps your body use insulin better, which can bring down your blood sugar levels.

Running can be an option for some people with diabetes. Follow these tips to get started:

  • Get the OK from your doctor first. Running is safe for many people with diabetes, but not everyone. It may not be the best exercise option for people with certain diabetes-related complications. Some people with diabetes need to stick with lower-impact exercises or activities that don’t raise their blood pressure. It’s crucial to speak with your doctor before you begin a running program. Your doctor will let you know if there are any precautions you should take.
  • Get professionally fitted for running shoes. Every runner should be professionally fitted for proper running shoes, but wearing quality shoes is even more important for people with diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher risk for problems that can affect their feet, such as peripheral neuropathy, poor circulation, and ulcers. Wearing comfortable shoes that fit well can help prevent foot-related issues.
  • Start running slowly. If you haven’t been active, start by walking first before you run. You may only be able to walk for 5 to 10 minutes at a time – and that’s OK. Once you can comfortably walk for 30 minutes, gradually start adding short spurts of slow running to your walks. In time, you’ll be able to extend your running intervals and take walk breaks less often. Eventually you may be able to run a mile or more continuously.
  • Be prepared for low blood sugar. Your doctor may suggest testing your blood sugar levels before and after every running session. If you run for a long time, you may also need to stop in the middle of your run to check your blood sugar. This is because exercise can sometimes bring on low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Carry a sports drink, glucose tablets, and anything else you need to treat hypoglycemia with you during your runs. Check your blood sugar as often as your doctor suggests, and only run when your blood sugar is in a safe range.
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel during and after runs. If you don’t feel right or if your blood sugar levels aren’t where they typically are, let your doctor know. If any part of your body hurts during a run, stop and take a couple of extra rest days. If your pain is severe or doesn’t improve on its own after a few days, see your doctor. Keep in mind that becoming a runner is hard work! It’s normal to feel aches and pains in the beginning. As you get into better shape, you won’t have as much muscle soreness.

Written by Jen Matz.