Walking and Diabetes – Tips and Strategies

If you are not diabetic, chances are you probably know someone that is. Millions of people around the world are somehow affected by Diabetes, and sadly thousands die each year. There are literally hundreds of studies that show exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage diabetes. One of the easiest and most natural exercises anyone with diabetes can participate in is walking. The benefits of walking are numerous and cannot be over emphasized. The following tips are certainly not all inclusive but provided as a general guideline to get you started on your way to a healthier you.

1. Get your doctor’s approval

As with any form of exercise, it is vital to consult with your physician before starting a walking program.

2. Walk with a friend or group

Let’s face it walking is boring at times. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated so join a walking group or at least walk with a partner. Relieving boredom will help you stick with a plan.

3. Wear comfortable walking or running shoes.

If you are diabetic, always be conscientious of your feet. Wounds often heal slower and can lead to potentially serious complications. Wear comfortable, well fitted shoes and always wear socks. Inspect your feet daily to avoid a plan ending blister or chaffing.

4. Create goals, develop a plan, tell people about it

In the beginning your only goal should be to get started, however, as you progress you may want to develop a plan. A plan could be simply to maintain your weight and help your body become more efficient at processing insulin. A plan also could be as complex as losing a lot of weight or to walk a marathon. Tell people about what you are doing. A support group will go a long way in keeping you motivated. In any case, a diary will help you to develop a plan, record your progress, and help you chart your way to achieving your goals. Be sure to schedule in a rest day periodically and remember that minor setbacks are sometimes unavoidable. Avoid disappointment by making these a part of your plan.

5. Start out gradually

In the beginning stages of a new walking regimen you should be cautious. After all walking is physically demanding none the less. Start out gradually by walking a block or walking 10 minutes. While walking, take the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation you’re probably walking the right pace. If you’re having difficulties carrying on a conversation, slow down! Your body will let you know when you can increase the distance or time. In the beginning it doesn’t matter how far or long you walk, your only goal should be to get started.

6. Avoid low sugar (hypoglycemia)

Until you know how walking affects you glucose levels, test before and after a walk. Any exercise may cause your body to more effectively process insulin so it’s possible for your sugar levels to drop significantly. Be sure both you and your partner know the signs of hypoglycemia (sweating, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, and dizziness.) You should always carry a source of quick acting sugar like glucose tablets or a small container of juice. A diabetic ID bracelet is quite inexpensive and could be a lifesaver.

7. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your walk

Your body is made up of 90% water so be sure to replenish fluids by drinking water before and after. During longer walks or warm days your body needs more water so try to carry water with you to avoid dehydration.

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