Walking the Treadmill

An Easy Exercise for People with Diabetes

Walking on a treadmill is an excellent way for people with diabetes to exercise.  And as you know, we must keep up on our exercise, even when it's cold out and we don't want to go outside.  That's why the treadmill is perfect!  In this article, I'll discuss some way to keep walking on the treadmill challenging (that's also important when you're trying to make exercise fun).

Before you start or change any exercise program, talk with your doctor. Along with the benefits of exercise there are also some risks for people with diabetes. Treadmills can usually be used by anyone, regardless of age or fitness level, but get your doctor's okay first.

Treadmill Tips

Doctors who prescribe treadmill exercise generally suggest that you start with a 10% maximum grade, eventually working up to a 15% grade for a more strenuous workout.

Cushioning is also important, particularly with older people or anyone who has joint or orthopaedic problems. Discuss this with your doctor, making sure you are wearing proper footwear. Also make sure your machine provides cushioning (different brands of treadmill machines achieve this in various ways).

Next, about the boredom. We've found that a varied supply of music with a strong beat offers good stimulation. You could also position a television nearby and watch your favorite talk show or sitcom, or pop one of the many videos on the market that combine music and a simulated outdoor environment into the DVD player.

You could place a mirror in front of your treadmill. This will help you work on your posture and lets you evaluate your walking technique. Is your head bobbing up and down (a no-no) or your hips swaying from side to side as you walk? Lift your chin—tighten your stomach muscles, and watch yourself walking. You'll be surprised when the buzzer says your workout is done.

Make sure your treadmill is clean and running smoothly.

If you're stimulated by scents, light a scented candle or place a bowl of potpourri nearby. Experiment with different scents and find one or more that works for you.

You can also vary your program—walk 20 minutes one day, 35 the next, etc. Even as little as 15 minutes on a daily basis can make a change in your blood sugar control and how you feel overall.

You can also vary the time of day. Walk in the morning one day, in the evening or at noontime the next. Boredom usually occurs with repetition.

In desperation, hop on the treadmill and phone a friend. Chatting with a friend while you walk will pass a half hour in what seems like a few minutes. Working out with a friend always improves one's mood.

Whatever tricks you need to try, you'll find a treadmill can become a convenient, easy way to get your exercise in inclement weather.

Just remember that if you take insulin (as people with type 1 diabetes do), wait an hour after an injection before doing any form of exercise; and anyone with diabetes should check their blood glucose level before and after exercising. Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) awareness training with your health-care team is also a good idea before you start any exercise program.

Updated on: November 27, 2012