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How To Exercise Safely With Diabetes Complications

How To Exercise Safely With Diabetes Complications-head

If you have been diagnosed with complications stemming from Diabetes, such as neuropathy or retinopathy, you might think exercise is out of the question.

In fact, the truth is that you need to exercise even more. Find out how to exercise safely with diabetes complications, because, you know, exercise is always the key to good management of your blood sugar.

You know, of course, that staying active equals staying healthy. Along with a nutritious diet and taking your diabetes medication, exercise is one of the pillars of good diabetes management.

But what if your ability to exercise is limited by diabetes complications such as neuropathy or retinopathy? 

According to Dr. Rim Joubran, an endocrinologist at Loyola University Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill.:

“Complications are no excuse to skip exercise. The benefits outweigh the risk, even with complications. If you can’t do moderate or intense activities, there are still great benefits to less intense but regular exercise. You just need an exercise program customized to your capacity.”

Based on my past experience working with Diabetics, I completely agree. Here’s why:

How To Exercise Safely With Diabetes Complications-benefitsThe Benefits of Exercise With Diabetes

The results of a 2013 diabetes study published in the journal Radiology showed just how much a half-year of exercising can strengthen the heart.

After a six-month exercise program involving 12 participants with type 2 diabetes, body imaging studies found:

 ➡ Decreased fat in liver cells

 ➡ Decreased abdominal fat volume

 ➡ Decreased fat buildup around the heart — all risk factors for heart disease.

Guidelines from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommend a goal of for 150 minutes (50 minutes per day)of low-impact (less strenuous) aerobic exercise, along with some form of strength training suited to your ability, at least three times a week.

“It’s important to spread out your exercise over at least three days per week,” Dr. Joubran says. “Don’t try to squeeze as much exercise as you can into one or two days, and try not to go without any exercise for more than two days.”

Benefits from this level of exercise may include:

  • Less insulin resistance
  • Better blood sugar control
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart disease risk
  • Better quality of life

How To Exercise Safely With Diabetes Complications-safe signHere are some tips to stay safe and injury-free:

  1. Be aware of your body. Think about how the particular exercise is making you feel. If something doesn’t feel right, stop immediately and seek medical advice.
  2. Warm up and cool down. Try slow stretches and go through the motions of your sport or activity before starting. Cool down with slow stretching.
  3. Pace yourself. Have at least one recovery day each week to rest. If you are experiencing pain, rest until the pain has gone.
  4. Mix it up. Try other sports and exercises to reduce the risk of overtraining.
  5. Stay hydrated. You can lose around one and a half liters of fluid for every hour of exercise; so drink water before, during and after a session.
  6. Be weather aware. Take it easier in hot weather and wear clothing and sunscreen to protect yourself from the elements.
  7. Do it right. Try to get the technique right from the beginning, to ensure you are using your muscles correctly.
  8. Check your gear. Make sure your shoes and equipment fit properly and are right for the activity. Look after your equipment and check it regularly for safety.
  9. Be sensible, especially at night or in secluded areas. Take a friend or your dog, stick to well-lit areas and wear bright or light-reflective clothing so drivers can see yo ➡ How To Exercise Safely With Diabetes Complications-wheel

If You Have Diabetes Complications:

If you have diabetes complications, you still need exercise; in fact, you may even need it more. Remember that most people with diabetes can exercise safely even with complications, and any exercise is better than none.

 ➡ See Your Doctor Before Starting An Exercise Program

 ➡ Consider starting off in a structured and supervised exercise program.

Here are some specific tips for how to exercise safely with diabetes complications:

Neuropathy: Diabetes can cause damage to nerves, resulting in a decreased ability to sense pain, heat, or cold, especially in your feet. That could lead to a foot injury during exercise.

 ➡ You should be able to do moderate weight-bearing exercises with mild neuropathy.

 ➡ If you are walking for fitness, make sure to use proper footwear. Daily foot inspection and foot safety is the key to exercise with neuropathy.

 ➡ Include some balance exercises in your fitness plan, since neuropathy affects balance. If weight bearing is a problem, switch to a bike or pool exercise.

Heart disease and other blood vessel diseases: Diabetes can narrow blood vessels. This can lead to complications like leg pain and heart disease.

 ➡ If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, you should begin exercising in a supervised cardiac rehabilitation program. Your doctor may want you to do a stress test before deciding on a safe level of exercise for you.

Retinopathy: Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye, leading to visual problems. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have some retinopathy. If so:

 ➡ Avoid exercises that increase the pressure inside your eyes, such as heavy lifting and bending.

 ➡ The best exercise choices with retinopathy include slow and steady activities like biking, walking, hiking, swimming, or using an elliptical machine.

Kidney disease: High blood sugar can eventually overwork your kidneys, resulting in kidney damage called nephropathy. Symptoms can include fluid buildup and weakness. However, you should be able to find a safe level of exercise with kidney disease.

 ➡ Your doctor can help you establish a light to a moderately intense exercise routine. Even people on kidney dialysis have been shown to benefit from exercise.

Exercise With A Fitness Program Tailored to You

Because everyone is unique, you and your doctor should work together to find the right exercise routine for you.

 ➡ You want an aerobic exercise that gets your large muscles moving and your blood flowing.

How To Exercise Safely With Diabetes Complications-walking ➡ Brisk walking is safe for most people. If you have less stamina or you can’t bear weight, water aerobics is a great option.

No matter what type of diabetes complications you have, there’s some form of exercise that you can do, and it will have benefits for all areas of your health.


And, remember that not exercising can make your complications worse.


Learn More Here:

Benefits Of Exercise For Diabetes-14 TIPS FOR LIFETIME HEALTH

How Much Do You Need To Exercise To Lower Your Risks Of Diabetes?

Diabetics Staying ©Fit For Life – Feeding Your Body For Exercise

Ease Into Fitness By Avoiding Beginners’ Mistakes