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Fitness Corner: Swimming

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Swimming is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise. For people with diabetes, swimming can have several benefits, from weight control management to positive effects on your blood glucose levels. Swimming builds up all of the major muscle groups in your body. When you’re working out, your muscle cells absorb blood sugar more efficiently, meaning that your body may have lower blood sugar levels. These lowered blood sugar levels can last for hours or even days.

Don’t worry if you’re not a stellar swimmer. Many recreation centers offer swim aerobics classes where you don’t even need to know how to swim to participate. But if you’re interested in swimming laps make sure to start gradually. For example, you might want to take a break between each lap you swim, working up to swimming, with breaks, for 30 minutes.

Consider these precautions before jumping in:

  • Wear water socks or shoes to protect your feet from infections and abrasions.
  • Rinse off in the shower after swimming to remove chlorine, which can dry out your skin.
  • If you’re using an insulin pump, check the manufacturers’ guidelines to ensure your pump will work properly: some are even waterproof.
  • If you use a glucose meter keep it poolside along with glucose tabs or a high carbohydrate snack in a plastic bag so you can manage your blood sugar levels.
  • Alert the lifeguard or your swim instructor that you have diabetes.