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Creating an exercise routine can help you stay on track, exercise safely, help you include all forms of exercise into your activities and ensure you reach your goals. With a routine that fits your lifestyle, you can enjoy how activity benefits your diabetes without feeling overwhelmed.

Because diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease, if you haven't been very active in a long time, meet with your healthcare provider before starting your physical activity plan.

"So, we're going to put you on the treadmill and have you walk, and you're going to &"

Depending on your age and overall health, your healthcare provider may recommend an exercise stress test before starting a new exercise plan. Any special needs you may have should be taken into consideration when creating your exercise routine.

For example, if you have eye disease - such as advanced stage retinopathy - weight training may have to be limited to light resistance, or not at all. If you have neuropathy in your feet or orthopedic problems that make it difficult to walk, upper body exercise may be a good option for you.

Once your doctor gives you the okay, meet with your diabetes care team to talk about your physical activity plans.

"So, Jeanne, tell me about some of the activities that you like to do."

It is important to choose an activity you enjoy because the more you enjoy it, the easier it will be to make it a routine. Listening to music or books on tape, or watching your favorite TV show while exercising can help.

Here are some other tips to help keep you on track: Make physical activity a priority. Schedule it into your day and guard that time. Don't let anything get in your way.

Work with your care team to set goals that are realistic and achievable. At first, your goal may be to walk just ten minutes a day. When you can do that, make your goal 15 minutes a day. Steadily increase the amount of activity you do.

"When I'm on the treadmill now, it starts off at zero and then you raise the tread level up to one. Well, I'm up to one and I'm able to walk at three point one on that now, and it's very exciting to see you being able to do more."

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week. For weight loss, you may need more.

"Once you lose weight you feel a lot lighter. So you feel more energetic, like, 'Oh, I could go another mile.'"

You may want to ask a friend or family member to join you.

"She'll go to our basement gym and hop on her bicycle, and start riding. And I start thinking, 'You know I should be doing that, too.'"

Each of you can encourage the other; and as you stick to your routine, reward yourself. Perhaps your reward can be a new book - even browsing in the mall after you've gone walking there.

Keep track of how well you're doing by keeping a log. Write down when you were active, what you did, for how long, how you felt afterward, and your blood glucose results before and after physical activity. This log will help you see your progress and will be important when you meet with your diabetes care team.

If you skip your session for any reason, don't think of it as a failure. Everyone needs a break every now and then. Just get back to working out as soon as you can.

And finally, find ways to add physical activity into your daily routine.

"With the kids and stuff, it's hard to find time between - you know, youth events and sports meetings and swimming teams and stuff like that and your own job and your husband's job. When do you find the time to exercise? You've got to make time. You know if it's walking around the neighborhood or walking the kids to the park, that's still exercising."

When shopping, park further away from the store and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Use a push mower instead of a riding lawn mower. Soon you won't even notice you've added more healthy activity to your routine. You'll just enjoy the health benefits.

"The toughest part is getting your shoes on and getting to the door. But once you're past that, it could be fun. And allow it to be fun. Allow yourself the opportunity to succeed."

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