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Do’s and Don’ts of Exercising Outdoors with Diabetes During COVID-19 Distancing Measures

April 12, 2020
Do's and Don'ts of Exercising Outdoors with Diabetes During COVID-19 Distancing Measures

As the vast majority of the country, or about 300 million Americans, remain under orders to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, another recommendation is to keep exercising. Staying active is even more important when you have diabetes, since exercise can lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of developing complications. These are some do’s and don’ts of exercising outdoors while physically distancing yourself from other people to keep yourself and others safe.

Calculate Your Risk of Diabetes

Age 40
low Risk

DO exercise outdoors


Being physically active helps control weight, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar. It also has benefits that are specific to the COVID-19 situation. Exercising helps relieve stress and strengthen the immune system. Exercising outdoors may have additional benefits, such as increasing motivation and improving mood.

DON’T go to a crowded location


Beaches, parks, and hiking trails may not be realistic destinations right now, especially if you live in a city. They may be too crowded to maintain your 6-foot distance, and many are closed now anyway.

DO take your gym workout outside


If you are used to working out in a gym but can no longer do so, there are ways to get a similar workout in the fresh air by setting up equipment, such as dumbbells or resistance bands, in your yard or at a park. Many online streaming services offer classes that you could do by taking your smartphone outside.

DON’T get stuck in a rut


Americans may be staying at home for several more weeks, so it is best to include a variety of activities to prevent boredom. Walking, jogging, biking, kicking a ball around at a park or against a wall, gardening, jumping rope, and cleaning out the garage are all good ways to get your heart rate up.

DO include your family


The people you live with may be the only in-person company you get nowadays, so they may as well be your workout buddies, too. Adults may hop into your workouts or suggest their own for you to try, while kids are good for exhausting and satisfying games such as Tag and Follow the Leader.

DON’T invite all your friends


Good though your intentions may be, it is nearly impossible to maintain your 6-foot distance throughout an entire walk, run, or other workout. Phoning friends while working out may be the best way to work out with them. 

DO maintain your usual precautions for exercising with diabetes


These can include carrying fast-acting carbs, such as honey or candy, in case you get hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, while exercising. It is also best to test blood sugar before and after working out and, if you are going alone, to let someone know when to expect you to return home. If you are coming home to an empty house, you might want to plan to call someone to let them know you are home safely.

DON’T start doing high-impact activities if you did not already do them


Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes. It can include nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the feet, and increase the risk for injuries. Pounding, from high-impact activities such as jumping rope and running, can sideline you during this crucial time when medical care may be hard to come by.

DO make room for everyone


Crowded sidewalks from people not usually out there. When someone is coming towards you, you may need to step aside for them. Generally, it makes sense to step aside for people pushing strollers or parents with young children, as well as older adults.

DON’T take chances


If there are simply too many people out there to exercise safely, it may be best to take another route or exercise at a different time of day.

DO keep your dog on a leash


Dogs are built-in motivators and great company for exercise so take full advantage. Just be considerate of others, and follow the law, by keeping your dog on a leash unless you are at an off-leash dog park. Even if you normally “get away” with letting your dog off of her leash, there are more people outside right now to share sidewalks and parks.

DON’T let your dog drag you too close to other people


While dogs will not spread the virus to humans, they can suddenly drag you close to other people if they go towards them or other dogs without warning. Stay aware of what may attract your dog so you can prevent close encounters.

DO keep talking to your healthcare provider


Many healthcare facilities are closed and it may not be easy to get an in-person appointment, but email communication, phone appointments, and video chats are covered more widely now than ever before. Asking questions and keeping your healthcare provider updated on your progress can keep you motivated and informed.

DON’T put off getting started


COVID-19 or not, time is passing. If you have not started exercising, you can start now, provided your doctor approves. Walking is a great starting exercise for many people since it is a natural movement, you can do it at a low intensity, and it does not require fancy equipment.

Calculate Your Risk of Diabetes

Age 40
low Risk

DO take Lark with you


Keep your phone on you so Lark can detect all that movement you are doing, and log in often to get encouragement and see how much you moved. Best of all, you do not even need to worry about catching germs from Lark.

DON’T sweat the details


The exact number of calories you burned or miles you walked is not as important as getting out there and doing something. During the COVID-19 pandemic, being consistent with your exercise routine without letting it add to your stress is a priority. That is why Lark for Diabetes is encouraging, positive, and there for you all the time.

Written by Natalie Stein on April 12, 2020
Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health
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