Exercising with Diabetes – Take Care of your Feet!

For many people diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, there is a strong correlation between being overweight and the illness itself. Specialists recommend the obvious dietary changes to help manage and even in some cases, reverse this illness which has now reached epidemic proportions, but exercise is also a valuable management tool.

Exercise helps manage diabetes in two key ways:

  1. By contributing to weight loss and weight management, which is connected to reducing your risk of diabetic related complications, and
  2. By improving your circulation – a key risk for diabetes, particularly when circulation to your outer extremities like hands and feet is impaired. Reduced circulation results in loss of sensation and can greatly slow down the healing of ulcers, burns and other skin complaints.

Exercise also has a number of other benefits for diabetics or those in a pre-diabetic state, including lowering levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol; lowering your blood sugar levels; lowering blood pressure; reducing stress and the risk of cardiovascular issues – and generally increasing your sense of wellbeing.

If you have had diabetes for some time, and you also have a weight issue, you need to take care with your choice of exercise, especially when you are first starting to increase your fitness.

For many, starting out with a fairly brisk 30 – 40 minute walk about three times a week will start to have beneficial effects.

When you are walking, aim to raise your heart rate above what it would be when you are sitting or resting, but you still want to be able to talk easily – in other words, don’t walk so quickly that you are puffing or out of breath.

Make sure you also have a good pair of shoes to wear and even consider investing in some special diabetic socks designed to prevent and reduce the risk of foot injury.

If you are buying a new pair of shoes for walking, you might also like to spend a little more to get some custom fitted orthotics made from shock resistant foam that helps to cushion your feet from impact and reduce the impact on your joints. Proper diabetes foot care makes a huge difference in your overall health and mobility – the last thing you want is to be restrained to the couch because of foot pain and injuries.

You might also like to do something to help improve your flexibility – beginner yoga or Tai Chi, or even some simple daily stretching exercises.

With any exercise program, let your doctor know before you begin and set yourself reasonable goals – being overenthusiastic to start with can result in injury and the muscular aches and pains might be enough to put you off.

Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine has lots of benefits too, and regular walking can be a lot of fun especially if you have a dog to walk, or you make a point of regularly meeting up with friends to walk in the park or around your local streets.

In the winter time, you can go walking around your local indoor shopping mall instead, or invest in something like a wii fit for your television or a few exercise videos that mean you can exercise at home.

Whatever you choose to do, start gently, wear good shoes and have fun!


I'm a health and fitness blogger from Christchurch, New Zealand, passionately into triathlon and sharing with my readers what I am learning about health, fitness, diet and peak performance along the way.

2 thoughts on “Exercising with Diabetes – Take Care of your Feet!

  • August 27, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I work with a nutritionist and exercise physiologist who does a lot of work with diabetics. No matter the physical condition – wheel chair bound excluded – he has always been able to find a form of exercise that works for the patient, which when combined with his diet recommendations, usually results helps the patient to control the disease.

  • July 27, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Diabetic foot is a common complication for diabetes patients and they should be very careful about it. Any injury to feet may lead to greater problems.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *