Keep Diabetic Feet Safe By and While Exercising

by | Nov 10, 2017

When it comes to managing diabetes, the first step is to monitor and control glucose (sugar) levels in your bloodstream. Your primary care physician can advise you on an acceptable range of glucose, and then you need to adhere to your doctor’s orders to stay within that range. One of the ways your doctor may try to help you is by recommending a dietitian who can work with you to create a diabetes-safe dietary plan.

Healthy eating is essential for diabetes management, but so too is exercising on a regular basis!

Why is regular exercise an important part of managing diabetes? Well, physical activity done on a routine basis can negate—and in some cases even reverse—damage done by elevated glucose levels. Examples of this damage includes impaired immune function, constricted blood vessels, and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).

Exercise is proven to lower blood sugar levels. This happens when muscles contract during physical activity as you move your body. During muscular contraction, your cells are able to uptake glucose and burn it for energy, regardless as to whether or not insulin is available. Additionally, physical activity is proven to increase insulin sensitivity. This means your muscles cells are then better able to use available insulin for glucose uptake during and following your exercises.

More simply put, physical activity lowers blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours (and sometimes longer) after you are done working out!

Exercising is incredibly beneficial for your body and managing glucose levels, but you do have to be smart about this. If you try to do too much at first—and especially if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle—it can be a problem. A better approach than jumping off the couch and trying to run a marathon is to start your new, doctor-approved workout program with lower amounts of physical exertion.

A key part of ensuring your safety as you start working to improve your physical health is to partner with an experienced medical team, including our professionals here at Premier Podiatry Group!

So why should you talk to a podiatrist when creating an exercise plan if you have diabetes? Well, certain activities and exercises can place a lot of force on your lower limbs. Also, you need to consider how the disease itself affects your feet.

Nerve damage that often accompanies diabetes can make it difficult (or even impossible) to feel injuries and damage in your lower extremities. The problem with this is untreated conditions can become serious medical complications – namely diabetic foot ulcers and Charcot foot.

This means you have to take some measures to make sure you’re exercising safely. This includes getting doctor approval beforehand, wearing well-fitting shoes that are activity-appropriate and podiatrist-approved, staying hydrated, packing a diabetic snack, and easing gradually into the activity.

With regards to the best exercises for diabetes, here are some of the top choices:

  • Walking is easy, low-impact, and you can do it virtually anywhere.
  • Swimming is a low-impact, total body workout.
  • Stationary biking provides the benefit of biking without the risk of a fall.
  • Weight-lifting strengthens your body and is especially effective in combination with an aerobic activity.
  • Yoga and Tai Chi are exercise options that use slow, relaxed movements and poses to build strength, improve balance, and reduce stress.

Something common amongst these activities is the fact they are all low-impact, which means not too much force is being placed on your lower limbs. High-impact activities like running or court sports (basketball, tennis, etc.) could put you at heightened risk for injury and are probably best avoided. (This is something to be discussed with your primary care provider or our team here at Premier Podiatry Group.)

No matter which exercise you do, make sure you choose something you enjoy. In doing so, you’ll be more likely to stick to your exercise routine.

For more information on safe exercising when you have diabetes, or to request an appointment for diabetic foot care services, call our Ebensburg office at (814) 472-2660 today!