Many health benefits come with exercise. But not every type of exercise is suitable for those living with diabetes. Exercise can actually exacerbate some health problems associated with diabetes, especially those involving the feet.
Diabetes can cause nerve damage in the form of peripheral neuropathy, which presents itself as feelings of numbness, stiffness and/or burning pain. Numbness could quickly turn dangerous if you don’t feel pain and an injury goes unnoticed and untreated. This can result in ulcers (open sores) or wounds that get infected, which can be quite serious.
Repetitive exercise on insensitive feet can lead to ulceration and fractures. “Limit your choice of exercise to low impact or non-weight bearing activities,” says Michael See, MS, RCEP, clinical exercise physiologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Exercises that won’t put a lot of stress on your feet are:
- Those done in the pool. Make sure to dry your feet well when you get out of the pool, and look into buying a pair of pool shoes to protect your feet in the water.
- Indoor or outdoor cycling
- Hatha (stretching) yoga
As always, ask your doctor before you begin any new exercise regimen, and pay close attention not only to your feet but also your blood-glucose levels.
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