The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that over 29 million Americans are diabetic and another 84+ million more are prediabetic. If you think about it, those numbers add up to roughly one-third of the U.S. general population. One out of every three Americans either have diabetes or an elevated risk of developing it.
Those numbers are alarming!
With diabetes being such a major health concern, November is designated as National Diabetes Month, and it constitutes an opportunity for the health community to raise awareness of this disease and how it affects those who are inflicted with it.
Last year, the ADA took advantage of the month to showcase real-life stories of men and women who live with the disease. These stories highlighted the daily struggles that accompany a disease responsible for systemic damage throughout the body.
When it comes to diabetes management, the first step is in controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels. You need to work with your primary care physician to establish an acceptable blood sugar range, and then you simply must take measures to stay within it. One of the ways you will be able to do so is seeing a dietitian to create a diet plan that actually works for you.
Another way to fight against diabetes is to exercise on a regular basis.
Why is exercise so important in managing diabetes? Because it can negate, and, in some cases, even reverse the damage done by heightened blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels contribute to constricted blood vessels, impaired immune function, and neuropathy (nerve damage).
Exercise is proven to lower blood glucose. One of the ways this happens is muscles contracting during physical activity. When they do, cells are able to take up glucose and use it as energy, no matter if insulin is available or not. Additionally, exercise also increases insulin sensitivity, which means muscles cells can better use available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.
To put that more simply, exercise can lower blood glucose for up to 24 hours (or more!) following your workout.
Now, exercising can be incredibly beneficial for your body, but you do have to be smart about it. Trying to do too much—especially if you’ve been leading a fairly sedentary life—can be a problem. A better plan than trying to jump off the couch and run a marathon is to start with a low to moderate amount of physical activity – one that has been approved by your doctor!
Working with your medical team, including our professionals here at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, is an essential part of ensuring your safety and health as you work to improve your health.
Why is it important to talk with a podiatrist when determining how to exercise with diabetes? Well, this comes down to the amount of forces certain activities can place on your feet and how the disease affects your lower limbs.
Nerve damage that often accompanies diabetes can make it difficult (or even impossible) to feel injuries and damage in your lower extremities. The problem with this is that untreated conditions can become serious medical complications – namely diabetic foot ulcers and Charcot foot.
Given the amount of force that can accompany high-impact activities (running, court sports like basketball or tennis, etc.), it’s best to stick to low-impact ones like walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga. Of course, you should always discuss exercises and workout programs with medical professionals first, even for low-impact activities!
No matter if you are active, plan on becoming active, or currently have no plans to do so, you still need to come see us at our Carmichael, CA office. We can help you create a diabetic foot care plan centered on measures to protect your feet and keep them safe. For more information either fill out our online form or call (916) 961-3434.