Living with diabetes is more than managing blood sugar levels. It also involves adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors, though traditional recommendations might be adapted to suit you better.
If you’re having trouble with some of the standard recommendations you hear in the media or read about online, here are a few tips that can help you prioritize and adopt these behaviors.
Exercise is often one of the single most effective approaches for improving how you feel. If you often feel tired, it can be difficult to muster up the energy to go exercise, but it’s a feedback cycle!
If you go for a 10-30 minute walk each day, you’ll find you have more energy. Moving your joints and gently stretching can ease some of the tightness and spasms around your joints, especially your lower extremities. Exercise can also help control anxiety and improve your quality of sleep – and it doesn’t require intense physical activity! It also improves your insulin sensitivity.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting on an exercise plan, and find out what types of shoes are best to maintain your skin and food health.
build your strength
Building up your muscle mass helps you maintain and build functional abilities. What’s that mean? If you have trouble carrying groceries or doing tasks around the house, strength training exercises can help.
You don’t have to be lifting heavy weights like the photo above. Try adding ankle or wrist weights on your walks, doing body weight resistance such as pushups against a kitchen counter, calf raises, and chair-sit squats are all ways to build up your abilities.
Increasing your muscle mass also helps you improve your insulin sensitivity, allowing your muscles to respond to the insulin your body makes (or that you give it) to take sugar out of your blood and into your cells to use for energy. Muscle mass also burns calories, and shifting your body composition can help you lose weight, which also helps control your sugars and reduce pressure on your joints.
take care of your feet
Foot pain, spasms, and discomfort aren’t uncommon for those of you living with diabetes.
Some of this pain feels like pins and needles, and is due to poor circulation in your feet. Poor feeling in your feet also mean you might not notice cuts or scrapes, which can easily get infected and lead to serious consequences.
As I mentioned before, talking with your doctor about the appropriate socks and shoes you need to start exercising, and for the day-to-day, is important. There are socks for diabetes on the market that can protect your feet from sores and blisters, support aches with light compression, and wick away moisture to avoid infection. Avoid prominent seams that might indent your skin or elastic cuffs that hinder circulation. Use heat and ice packs can to help manage aches and pains (neuropathy pain) in your joints.
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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