Exercise and physical activity are important for everyone, but especially for people living with diabetes, or who are at risk of developing diabetes. There are an estimated 30.3 million people in the United States with diabetes, and over seven million are undiagnosed. With more than two million people suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer right now, prevention and intervention are key. Physical activity can help manage and prevent diabetes.
When a person is active, cells inside the body become more sensitive to insulin. Cells also remove glucose from the blood during exercise. Consistently exercising can help lower blood glucose levels and improve A1C. With a lower A1C, patients may be able to take fewer diabetes medications or less insulin. In addition, physical activity can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lower the risk for heart disease and stroke, help a person lose weight or maintain healthy weight, increase energy, improve sleep, relieve stress, strengthen muscles and improve overall quality of life.
Knox Community Hospital’s Center for Wound Healing, a member of the Healogics network, offers these exercise tips:
- Before starting an exercise program, talk with your health care professional regarding any concerns or complications.
- Check blood glucose before and after exercise to learn how your body responds. Those at risk for low blood glucose should have a source of carbohydrates nearby while exercising.
- Since dehydration is often an issue with diabetes, it is important to drink water early and frequently when exercising.
- For diabetics with reduced sensation, prolonged walking, jogging, using a treadmill and step exercises are not recommended. Instead, try swimming, bicycling, rowing, chair and arm exercises and other non- weight bearing activities.
- Proper footwear is essential. The use of silica gel or air midsoles, as well as polyester or cotton/ polyester socks, will help prevent blisters and keep feet dry.
- There are many ways to increase physical activity besides formal exercise such as gardening, housecleaning and even marching in place or walking around the house during TV commercial breaks.
For more information about living a healthy life and exercising with diabetes, contact the Center for Wound Healing at the Knox Medical Pavilion, 1451 Yauger Road, Suite 1C or 740.393.HEAL (4325).