For Diabetics, Exercising is Not a Walk in the Park

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For many, starting an exercise program is often daunting for people because they may be out of shape, overweight or have other health conditions that lead to inactivity. Although every journey begins with the first step, walking might not be the best way to begin an exercise program if you are one of the nearly 24 million Americans living with diabetes.

“People with diabetes often experience diminished sensation in their lower limbs and should inspect their feet closely for blisters and other potential damage before and after exercising. It is estimated that every year 5 percent of diabetics develop foot wounds that, in extreme cases, lead to amputation,” said Dr. Lawrence A. Lavery, who serves on the medical advisory board of National Healing Corporation. Its Wound Healing Centers around the nation treat chronic wounds that heal poorly due to complications from diabetes.

For people with diabetes, physical activity improves insulin sensitivity and helps bring elevated blood glucose levels into the normal range. In addition, they can help manage their disease through increased circulation, weight loss and other benefits of exercise. But there is more diabetics should know.

The Mercy Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, a National Healing Corporation Wound Healing Center, offers these exercise tips:

  • Before starting an exercise program, talk with your health care professional regarding the presence of vascular complications that could worsen with exercise and orthopedic or musculoskeletal conditions that may exempt certain exercises.
  • Check your 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.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine has demonstrated that resistance training can improve insulin sensitivity to about the same extent as aerobic exercise. The American Diabetes Association recommends that exercising with weights is acceptable for younger individuals but not recommended for older people with long-standing diabetes.
  • 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.

About the Mercy Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center: The Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Mercy Medical Center is located at 1950 Rosaline Avenue, Suite A. A National Healing Corporation Wound Center, it specializes in the treatment of chronic wounds and non-responsive conditions and offers hospital-based outpatient wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy as well as disease management and diabetes care. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has awarded National Healing Corporation Disease-Specific Care Certification for wound care. Call (530) 245-4801 or log on to: for more information.

View the location of Mercy’s Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center in a larger map.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Helen says:

    Some good information here, thanks

  2. Avatar Gamerjohn says:

    Not to mention that the medication to balance and lower blood sugar makes it even harder to lose weight since to burn fat you have to burn the blood sugar first so that fat can be converted to sugar to replace it. Nondiabetics just don't realize how the medicine makes losing weight so hard. Cut the calorie intake and you run the risk of sugar lows and crashes. Exercise too much and the same result.