Exercise tips for people living with diabetes

For many people, beginning an exercise program can be daunting because they’re out of shape, overweight or have other health conditions that have resulted in a sedentary life style. Although most authorities recommend starting off slow by regular walking, that might not be the best advice if you are one of the more than 26 million Americans living with diabetes.

“Diabetic patients often experience diminished sensation in their lower limbs and should inspect their feet daily for blisters and other trauma, particularly before and after exercising. It is estimated that every year, five percent of diabetic patients develop lower extremity ulcers that can lead to amputation. Fifty percent of patients who have amputations have a higher risk of dying within five years,” said Camille Miller, MD, medical director of PeaceHealth’s Wound Healing Center in Bellingham.

However, for diabetics, physical activity improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower elevated blood glucose levels into the normal range. In addition, exercise can help diabetes patients manage their disease through increased circulation, weight loss and cardiovascular health.

PeaceHealth’s Wound Healing Center offers these exercise tips:

Before starting an exercise program, talk with your healthcare provider about the possibility of complications with your circulatory system that could worsen with exercise.

Check your blood glucose before and after exercise to learn how your body responds.

Since dehydration can be an issue with diabetes, it is important to drink water early and frequently when exercising.

For people who have reduced sensation due to diabetes, prolonged walking, jogging, using a treadmill and step exercises are not recommended. Instead, try swimming, bicycling, rowing or other non-weight-bearing activities.

Proper footwear is essential. Using silica gel or air midsoles and wearing polyester or cotton/polyester socks can help prevent blisters and keep feet dry.

Resistance training can also improve insulin sensitivity, but requires caution to prevent injuries.

Gardening, housecleaning or marching in place around the house are also great ways to get your body moving.

If you have further questions or need more information, contact the PeaceHealth Wound Healing Center directly at 360/788-7733.

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