Exercise Intensity, Warm-Up & Cool Down
Intensity, warm-up, cool-down
Low-intensity activities include light walking, volleyball, gardening or stretching. Moderate activities include brisk walking, biking, raking leaves, swimming, dancing or water aerobics. Vigorous activities include things like aerobics, jogging, hockey, basketball or fast swimming.
Before starting your program of physical activity, be sure to have your doctor explain what level of intensity is right for you.
Warm up before you begin any physical activity, particularly any vigorous one. Walking for five minutes or so before exercise will warm up your muscles and prepare your body for a more vigorous workout. It's also a good idea to stretch before starting to exercise. There's a right way and a wrong way to do this. The right way is a relaxed, sustained stretch with your attention focused on the muscles being stretched. The stretches should be slow and easy, like the stretch done on awakening. The wrong way is to bounce up and down or to stretch to the point of pain.
Likewise, when you've finished your activity, you need to cool down for a few minutes before resuming your normal activities. Walking and stretching for a few minutes while your breathing returns to normal is a good way to end an exercise session.
Take your pulse before, during and after a workout to make sure your heart rate isn't too high. Your doctor will tell you what your target heart rate should be. To take your pulse, place the tips of your two middle fingers of one hand lightly on the wrist of the opposite hand at the base of the thumb. Count the beats for 10 seconds. Then multiply the number of beats by six. The number you get is your heart rate for one minute.
If your pulse rate is much higher or lower than usual or is irregular, stop exercising immediately. If you have any other unusual symptoms after physical activity, contact your diabetes care team and ask for advice.
When to stop exercising and what to avoid
If you are exercising, stop right away if you:
• Experience chest pain or discomfort
• Become unusually short of breath
• Have a rapid fluttery heart beat
• Have a slow or irregular heart beat
• Feel weak, faint or dizzy
• Experience leg pains or cramps
If you experience any of these symptoms, sit or lie down. Check your blood glucose levels. If they are low, take a sugar source immediately. If you don't feel better in a few minutes, seek medical help right away. Also, be sure to report any symptoms like the ones above to your doctor as soon as possible. You may need to modify your exercise program.
When to eat snacks and when to drink
If you're sweating, your body is losing water. To replace that water and maintain your proper liquid balance, you need to drink. Carry a bottle of water with you when you are exercising. Make sure you drink enough to replace fluids lost as perspiration.
Depending on the intensity and length of your exercise, you could develop low blood sugar while exercising or even afterward! Always check your glucose level before, during, and after exercise. Be sure to consume a meal within one hour of beginning to exercise so that you will have adequate energy for the activity.
Make it a habit to always carry an easy-to-use sugar source (glucose tablets, a small box of raisins, a pack of jellybeans, a box of fruit juice, etc.) and bring your blood glucose monitor when you are exercising. At the first sign of low glucose, eat a sugar source, and take your normal precautions for dealing with low blood glucose.