While walking has rewards for all of us, the benefits for diabetics can be huge. In fact, it’s one of the most popular and widely recommended physical activities for people with diabetes. Best of all, it requires no special equipment and can be done almost anywhere.
A regular regimen of walking—for 30 minutes to an hour every day—can result in lasting health benefits and can be a great way to help control diabetes. Here are three benefits of establishing a regular walking routine.
Improved Glucose Control
Exercise helps muscles absorb blood sugar, preventing it from building up in the bloodstream. While this effect can last for hours or days, it’s not permanent. That’s why walking regularly is required for continued blood glucose control.
Better Cardiovascular Health
People with diabetes are at an increased risk for heart disease, so improvements in cardiovascular function can help to reduce this risk.
Regular walking can be an effective means of helping to control weight. And when combined with a good diet can reduce health risks.
Consult A Health Care Provider
Before starting any new exercise regimen, those suffering from diabetes should be sure to check with their health care provider to make sure it’s okay to increase activity levels.
In addition, because diabetics are at risk for foot problems, a consultation with a podiatrist may also be in order.
Depending on the condition of a patient’s feet, diabetic footwear may be required. These special shoes can be prescribed by the patient’s primary care physician and fitted by a podiatrist.
Even if the health care provider does not recommend diabetic footwear, proper footwear is essential to ensuring the effectiveness of a walking regimen and in reducing additional health risks.
- Shoes should fit comfortably and should include extra room in the toe box
- Ensure there is no rubbing at the heel or in any other sensitive areas that may cause blisters and increase the risk of infection
- Look for shoes with a flatter, broader outsole that can help improve balance
- If unsure about the proper fit, have someone at a specialty retail store—especially a walking store—measure and fit the patient with a pair of walking shoes
- Seamless socks are a good choice since these are designed to avoid irritating the feet
- Synthetic socks designed to wick moisture away from the skin can also be a good choice
Once the patient has gotten the go-ahead to begin their walking regimen and has been outfitted with the proper footwear, it’s a good idea to begin slowly and easily. The important thing is to avoid injury and to ensure that feet stay comfortable.
Build up to the optimal walking duration—45 minutes to an hour, five to seven days a week—by increasing the length of walks and the frequency gradually.
In addition, joining a local walking group may help keep the patient motivated and increase the likelihood of their sticking with a regular routine.
Most importantly, get out, get moving and stay in motion!