Exercise and physical activity are important for everyone, but especially for people living with diabetes, or who are at risk of developing diabetes. There are an estimated 37 million people in the United States with diabetes, and over seven million are undiagnosed.
With more than two million people suffering from diabetic foot ulcers right now, prevention and intervention are key. The Wound Care Center at Conway Medical Center is breaking down the risk factors of diabetes and spotlighting how physical activity can help manage and prevent this disease.
Risk Factors for Diabetes & Wounds
Risk factors for diabetes include age, diet, activity level, obesity, and heredity. Factors that may increase the risks of developing a chronic wound, such as a diabetic foot ulcer, include high blood sugar levels, poor circulation, immune system issues, and nerve damage.
About 60 percent of people living with diabetes will develop neuropathy, eventually leading to a foot ulcer. Several additional factors can increase the likelihood of developing diabetic foot ulcers, including peripheral arterial disease (PAD), deformities, and Charcot foot. Neuropathy results from damage to peripheral nerves and often causes weakness, numbness and pain in the hands and feet. Similarly, with PAD, narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, causing damage. Charcot’s foot is a deformity that results from nerve damage in the foot or ankle. When left untreated a breakdown of the joints can occur.
Physical Activity Combats Diabetes
When you are active, cells inside your body become more sensitive to insulin. Cells also remove glucose from the blood during exercise. Consistently exercising can help lower your blood glucose levels and improve A1C. With a lower A1C, you may be able to take fewer diabetes medications or less insulin. In addition, physical activity can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy, improve sleep, relieve stress, strengthen your muscles, and improve your overall quality of life.
The Wound Care Center at CMC, a member of the Healogics network, offers these exercise tips:
- Before starting an exercise program, talk with your primary care provider regarding any concerns or complications.
- Check 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
- Since dehydration is often an issue with diabetes, it is important to drink water early and frequently when
- 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 The use of silica gel or air midsoles, as well as polyester or cotton/ polyester socks, will help prevent blisters and keep feet dry.
- 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.
All content of this article is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based on any content of this article.
Source: Healogics, Inc. “1809.1”