Swimming cool option for people with diabetesBy
The Diabetes Management & Supplies education manual puts swimming in the cardio category. Other exercises of this type include walking, running, dancing and elliptical trainers. Whether in small sessions or using a combination of different exercises, people with diabetes should strive to get 150 minutes of exercise each week. A good rule of thumb is 30 minutes a day for five days.
Your safety precautions start with getting a doctor’s clearance before starting a new exercise routine. Other tips for safe swimming with diabetes include testing your blood sugar before and after swimming and having glucose tablets on hand if you are prone to bouts of low blood sugar when exercising. You should look for insurance discounts or community resources like Silver Sneakers or the YMCA.
Reader’s Digest offers these additional tips
- Splash in class: A water aerobics class may be the best way to get a full-body workout in the pool — and you don’t even need to know how to swim. If there’s upbeat music playing and you’re with a nice group of people, you may even feel a little bit like you’re at a party. Want to get competitive? Your pool might have a recreational water volleyball team, so call and inquire.
- Get a leg up with a kickboard: Your buoyancy in the water is already protecting your joints from impact, but if you need even more lift, a kickboard will help. They’re also handy if you’re not confident of your swimming ability and want extra help in staying afloat. People who just want to exercise their legs can grab a kickboard by its sides and propel themselves through the water with leg power.
- Work up to 30-minute session: Swim one pool length (25 meters in a standard pool), and then rest for 30 seconds. If that didn’t challenge you, alternate swimming for 5 minutes and resting for 1 minute. Each time you visit the pool, add gradually to your swimming distance, resting as needed, until you reach 30 minutes of total swim time each session. To steadily improve your aerobic fitness, swim three times a week.
- Protect wounds in the water: Swimming when you have an open wound isn’t a good idea because it increases your risk of infection. Rather than skipping your aqua-workout when you have a cut or sore, ask your doctor whether a waterproof bandage or another skin barrier is appropriate for your situation. Be sure to clear the bandage with the pool’s lifeguard or manager before you jump in.
- If you use a pump, know its limits: Some insulin pumps are advertised as being “waterproof” (sometimes with the use of inserts to plug the vent holes), but read the instructions carefully about the limits of this protection. The waterproofing may only apply to near-the-surface use and may not apply if you’re diving more than about nine feet underwater. If you find that the tape on your infusion set keeps coming loose in the water, pick up a very lightweight wet suit T-shirt and wear that over the infusion set. The close-fitting shirt will prevent water from peeling up the edges of the tape.
Diabetes Management & Supplies offers diabetes self-management and diabetes education services. For more information on specific exercise needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929.