Workout Wednesday with SweatBetes

Ginger Vieira of Living in Progress produced a series of exercise videos for people living with diabetes. Developing a regular exercise habit continues to be a challenge for me, so I decided to try out the SweatBetes videos and see if they can help me with that.

Ginger, a certified personal trainer and person living with Type 1 diabetes, has agreed to help me along the way by answering some questions and sharing her insights.

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Corinna: Okay Ginger, I’ve decided to try using SweatBetes to add some exercise to my routine.

I have to say, I’m more than a little overwhelmed. There are four different exercise videos and an introduction.  And I truly am a beginner. I know that there are exercises in these videos that I cannot do right now. Where should I start?

Ginger: Great question! If I were you, I’d pick any one of the four videos and do just that video on one day. For instance, choose the “bodyweight workout” on Monday, take a few days to recover, then try the “ab workout” on Wednesday or Thursday, then the “beginner’s yoga” on Friday, and the “dumbbell workout” on Sunday or Monday of the following week. Spread them out, and take your time!

It also comes down to how much time you have and what your level of fitness is. If you’re looking to spend a full hour exercising, then you could easily fit two or three of the videos into one day’s workout! For instance, the “ab workout” combined with the “bodyweight workout” and the “dumbbell workout” would give you a very intense 55 minutes of exercise! On the other hand, you might only have 30 minutes to exercise, so you could do just the 30-minute “beginner’s yoga” or you could combine the “dumbbell workout” with the “ab workout.” You choose!

Meanwhile, if you feel like you’re unable to do a specific exercise, you should always feel free to adjust it a bit for your needs. For example, if doing a lunge all the way to the ground is too difficult, then you can either slow down and just do 4 or 5 full lunges or be very conscientious about what depth you can go to while still maintaining good form.

Corinna: I get what you say in the introduction about making exercise into a science experiment. Measure my BG before, halfway through, and at the end of exercising. Keep track of the results. I shouldn’t exercise if my BG starts out at or above 180.

But I’m living with Type 2, so the advice to bolus doesn’t work for me. What should I do if I find that my BG is dropping too low or going too high in the middle of exercise?

Ginger: For people living with Type 2 who aren’t on supplemental insulin, low blood sugars don’t tend to be as common or as problematic. That being said, anyone who feels light-headed or dizzy during a workout could be experiencing a low blood sugar and should stop, check their blood sugar, consume carbohydrates if they’re low, and only begin exercising again if or when they feel better. Some Type 2s may find that their efforts to increase their own sensitivity to insulin and lower their blood sugars through diet and exercise means that they may need less medications or less insulin! If you’re constantly experiencing low blood sugars, during or not during exercise, then you might want to talk to your doctor about reducing your medications.

The video explains that while you certainly can exercise with a blood sugar over 180, that isn’t the goal. The reason I explain this is because many Type 1 diabetics feel as though they only way they can exercise without dropping low is by purposefully putting their blood sugar up above 180 mg/dL, but for long-term results, this isn’t ideal because your body won’t burn body fat effectively and your muscles won’t perform effectively! The whole system is effected.

For a Type 2, however, whose blood sugars might be above 180 mg/dL often as they work on increasing their sensitivity to their own insulin, getting more exercise can help lower their blood sugars. Above all, a blood sugar reading between 180 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL shouldn’t keep anyone from exercising as long as they don’t have ketones. Anything over 250 mg/dL during exercise can easily lead to ketones and therefore isn’t safe.

Corinna: You say these exercises are anaerobic, not aerobic. Don’t I need both kinds of exercise to be healthy? Should I add some aerobic activity to balance things out?

Ginger: Absolutely! The best form of aerobic exercise, especially for a beginner, is walking! Getting aerobic exercise through machines at the gym or walking or jogging is relatively easy, and most people tend to get far more aerobic exercise than anaerobic – which is why these videos are designed to offer more anaerobic options.

Anaerobic exercise is also important for building and maintaining strong bones and muscle tissue.

A great way to balance the whole picture for a beginner might look like this:

  • Monday: 20-minute bodyweight strength & 15 minutes of walking
  • Tuesday: 30-minute beginner’s yoga
  • Wednesday: 15-minute ab workout & 30 minutes of walking
  • Thursday: 30 to 45 minutes of walking
  • Friday: 20-minute dumbbell strength & 20 minutes of walking

Remember, everyone comes to this with different levels of fitness. There’s no way I can prescribe a fitness plan that fits for everyone because we all have different needs, different backgrounds, and different limits.

Think about your goals, how conditioned you already are, and what you can reasonably fit into your life. It’s always okay to start gradually! For some people, that means 15 to 20 minutes exercise every day. For others, it might mean 45 to 60 minutes of exercise. Listen to your body and be patient with your progress.

Corinna: I know with aerobic exercise I can measure my effort by measuring by heart rate. Is there a way to measure my effort while doing anaerobic exercise? How do I know I’m doing it right or hard enough to get results?

Ginger: Heart rate during anaerobic can be an important sign of exertion, because just like aerobic, during an intense anaerobic workout your heart rate ought to rise. However, unlike aerobic exercise, your heart should come down naturally between each exercise in the workout. That constant “up and down” of the heart rate is part of what allows the body to actually burn more body fat during anaerobic types of exercise, compared to aerobic which burns more glucose because your heart rate is constantly “up.” Many people assume, for example, that sprinting is aerobic because it’s running, but during a sprinting workout your heart rate is only up for a short period of time, then it comes back down, then you sprint again, etc. Sprinting is actually an anaerobic form of exercise. That’s the simplest way to explain it! 😉

Corinna: If anaerobic exercise is burning calories and building stronger muscle, should I feel sore after doing these exercises?

Ginger: You might. And if you’re new to doing these types of exercise, you probably will feel sore! Soreness is not a bad thing. If you’re a newbie, you can expect to feel sore for several days after your first workout, and the best thing to do for that soreness is go for a walk, warm the muscles up and get the blood flowing!

Getting used to and appreciating your hard work through that initial soreness is a mindset. It’s a choice. Some people let that soreness deter them from exercising again, but others work through it and get to the point where the soreness just isn’t so sore! It takes time, determination, and commitment! Embrace it!

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I’ll be trying out the SweatBetes videos and checking in with Ginger over the next five weeks on TuDiabetes. Join the conversation at

If you want to get your own copy of the SweatBetes videos, they are available for download at the bargain price of $5. All proceeds go to support the Big Blue Test.