Before you begin exercising
The following is a checklist of things you need be mindful of as a diabetic, before beginning your exercise routine:
1. You must protect your feet.
– Wear cotton or cotton-polyester blend socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters
– Wear comfortable and proper fitting shoes. If at all possible use silica gel or air midsoles in your shoes to help cushion and support your feet. Your toes should be able to bend freely and the shoes must be snug enough to not interfere with your movements. Certain sports require that you wear a particular type of foot gear. For example, basketball players wear high top sneakers and tennis players wear tennis shoes. Runners should wear proper low top running shoes.
2. Check your feet periodically for sores or blisters.
– It’s important to check you footwear often for any foreign objects that might cause blisters or lead to an infection.
It’s very easy to get a pebble in your shoes and not realize it, especially if you are suffering from neuropathy. Sometimes you become so engrossed in your exercise routine that you tend to neglect or put-off minor issues like these. Consequently, it doesn’t get resolved until you take your shoes off at the end of the day. This can lead to disastrous conclusions. Don’t do this. Take care of it as soon as possible by pausing to check your feet often.
One of my former co-worker, who is diabetic, accidentally stepped on a thumb tack at work and didn’t realize it until he sat down some time later. By then his foot was bleeding severely and overtime he had developed a very bad infection in one of his toes. After several visits to the doctor he unfortunately lost the toe which led to other problems. For a diabetic . . . neuropathy can be a nightmare.
3. Remain hydrated at all times
– It’s important to drink enough water before, during and after exercising. Have at least 15 oz. of water 30 to 60 minutes before you begin your routine. You want to consume up to 12 oz. every 15 to 20 minutes especially when doing high intensity intervals. Drink even if you are not thirsty.
Avoid the so-called energy drinks. They can be full of sugar and other additives that are not beneficial for anyone and especially for diabetics. You can’t go wrong with plain water.
4. Try not to exercise during the hottest part of the day.
– Avoid hot, humid weather to prevent any heat related injuries. Wear clothing that allows the skin to breathe and if needs be . . . wear a hat.
Caution: Be careful to avoid materials that are supposed to induce sweat such as sauna suits and/or tummy wraps. They can cause the body to reach dangerously high temperatures in a short time and may even be fatal. The weight you lose wearing these outfits is water weight and will return as soon as you drink water again.
– If you are in a colder climate then use the necessary precautions. Protect all exposed areas of your body. Be careful of icy patches especially if you are heavy.
5. Don’t exercise if you are sick.
– You will only make your condition worse. So if you have a cold, fever or sore throat put off exercising until you feel better.
6. Pain or discomfort
– If something hurts or you feel pain during a particular exercise . . . stop immediately. Choose a different exercise for the body part you are working or use lighter weights or fewer repetitions. Leave the “no pain no gain” philosophy for the hardcore exercisers.
The important thing here is to focus on consistency. Get into a good routine for the best results. Although I advocate a more intense method of exercising, consistency wins out over intensity for diabetics.
Be sure to carry a diabetes identification tag in a prominent location that clearly identifies your medical condition.
Let caution be your guide and in all things be consistent. Exercising should be enjoyable and beneficial to your long-term health. Minor injuries can lead to major ones and cause serious delays in reaching your optimum potential.
Although the above checklist is not exhaustive, it’s a good start. As you continue in your daily exercise habit you will develop your own style. Use the checklist as a guide.
To a healthier you,
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