Have a thorough medical check with your doctor before starting a new activity or exercise plan
Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to -
- Check your feet and check sensation and pulses. If poor circulation or sensation is found your healthcare professional may recommend non-weight bearing exercise e.g. cycling, swimming, upper-body workouts
- A visit to a podiatrist may be recommended for any special review including advice on footwear.
Shoes for exercise don’t need to be expensive. They should have the following features -
- Wide enough and long enough for a comfortable foot fit
- Deep enough (especially through the toes) to be roomy for the feet
- Lace-up or Velcro fasteners that come well up on the foot to provide stability
- Flat heeled but well cushioned
- A stable and solid heel counter (the part that goes around the heel)
- Check your feet daily and get help if there are signs of pressure or injury
Watch out for blisters, particularly if you play an organised sport.
Ill-fitting shoes or friction can damage the skin A blister forms to cushion the area from further damage as it heals. The body gradually absorbs the fluid as the underlying skin recovers. This can take around one week or so.
- Resist the temptation to burst the blister. It could cause an infection or hinder the body’s healing process.
- If the blister has burst, don’t peel off the baggy skin pocket – let your body heal the area in its own way and in its own time.
- Frequently wash the area with salt water and keep it free from dirt or irritants.
- If the site of the blister makes it vulnerable to popping (for example, a blister on your foot may be broken by the friction of socks or shoes), pad it with a soft dressing, securely taped. Make sure the middle part of the dressing doesn’t stick to the blister itself.
- Don’t use tape alone, removing the tape may rip the skin off the blister.
- Change the dressing daily.
See your practice nurse if you have any concerns.
- All people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease
- Learn the warning signs of cardiac stress and seek medical help if you have – pain - shortness of breath
- When starting a programme of exercise, build up slowly and do small, but increasing, amounts often
- Always stay comfortable – and exercise within your comfort zone
3. BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS (BGLs)
- If you are on insulin or tablets such as Metformin you should ideally carry some simple carbohydrate to treat possible lows (e.g. glucose tablets) and some complex carbohydrate to follow this up (e.g. a muesli bar)
- Carry a diabetes identification – medic alert or a card in your wallet
- If you are on medication, or if blood glucose testing has been recommended by your healthcare professional - test often and get advice on medication adjustment if your reading is often low (4 mmol/L or less). If it is, blood glucose lowering medications may need to be reduced if you are increasing your exercise
- Keep fluid levels up if blood glucose levels are greater than 10 mmol/L
- Don’t exercise if glucose levels are more than 15 mmol/L* Exercising when above this level can cause hyperglycaemia and dehydration Or less than 4 mmol/L which could cause a hypo.
*Drury, P. & Gatling, W. (2005). Your questions answered: Diabetes
4. KIDNEY OR EYE DISEASE
If you have existing nephropathy (damage to or disease of a kidney) or retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eye) it is usually best to only do gentle exercise. Get advice from your healthcare professional.
TYPES OF ACTIVITIES for people with diabetes who have – nerve damage or eye problems
– please check with your doctor or nurse for advice before commencing activity programmes
|Nerve damage (neuropathy - feet problems)
Non-weight bearing activities such as -
|Nerve damage –
Weight bearing exercise that includes pounding or jarring
|Damage to the retina of the eye (retinopathy) –
Low impact cardiovascular conditioning such as -
|Damage to the retina of the eye –
Strenuous activities/pounding or jarring such as -
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND TYPE 1 DIABETES
Regular physical activity is good for all people. However for people with type 1 diabetes adding exercise into daily routine can be a challenging juggling act.
Managing exercise while avoiding low blood glucose levels is complex for people with type 1 diabetes. Please work with your specialist team while learning to do this.
PLAN FOR GETTING MORE ACTIVE TYPE 2 DIABETES
Start small, keep it regular, increase slowly
Although it is good to be active to the point that causes you to breathe harder and become warm, it is also important to stay comfortable. If your activity is making you uncomfortable - short of breath, uncomfortably hot or giving you pain, you are exercising beyond your ability. Slow down or stop.
A good test of whether you are active at a moderate level, but still comfortable, is the ‘talk/sing test’. When you are exercising moderately you should be able to talk comfortably but not sing. If you can sing, you can almost certainly increase your activity level; if you can’t talk, you probably should slow down.
Stop if you have pain
If your activity is causing pain, you should stop and seek advice. Pain is a warning signal, it is not sensible or safe to continue an activity that is causing pain. If you are regularly getting pain during periods of increased activity, talk about this with your doctor or diabetes healthcare team.
Keep it up
Being active every day will improve your mood, your sense of wellbeing and your energy levels. Finding ways to reward yourself for staying active will help you to stick to your plan and make it a lifelong habit. Some people give themselves a tick on the calendar for every active day or a healthy treat once a week. Find something to help you feel good about the changes you have made.