Exercise Is Critical For People Living With Diabetes


May is National Physical Fitness Month, but for many people starting an exercise routine can seem daunting especially if they have health conditions that may lead to inactivity, such as diabetes.

There are an estimated 30.3 million people in the United States with diabetes. Physical activity can help manage and prevent diabetes. When a person is active, cells inside the body become more sensitive to insulin. Cells also remove glucose from the blood during exercise.

“Consistently exercising can help lower blood glucose levels and improve A1C. With a lower A1C, patients may be able to take fewer diabetes medications or less insulin,” says Dr. Marcus Blass, a board-certified surgeon and the Medical Director of AGH’s Wound Healing Center.

The Wound Healing Center at Allegan General Hospital (AGH), a member of the Healogics network, offers these exercise tips to people living with diabetes.

  • Before starting an exercise program, talk with your health care professional regarding any concerns or complications.
  • Check blood glucose before and after exercise to learn how your body responds. Those at risk for low blood glucose should have a source of carbohydrates nearby while exercising.
  • Since dehydration is often an issue with diabetes, it is important to drink water early and frequently when exercising.
  • For diabetics with reduced sensation, prolonged walking, jogging, using a treadmill and step exercises are not recommended. Instead, try swimming, bicycling, rowing, chair and arm exercises and other non-weight bearing activities.
  • Because diabetics frequently develop foot wounds, proper footwear is essential. The use of silica gel or air midsoles, as well as polyester or cotton/polyester socks, will help prevent blisters and keep feet dry. A daily self-exam of the feet is recommended because even a minor sore can rapidly become serious. 
  • There are many ways to increase physical activity besides formal exercise such as gardening, housecleaning and even marching in place or walking around the house during TV commercial breaks.
AGH’s Wound Healing Center offers comprehensive wound care and leading edge treatments including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, negative pressure wound therapy, bio-engineered skin substitutes, biological and biosynthetic dressings and growth factor therapies. For more information on the treatment of chronic or infected wounds, contact AGH’s Wound Healing Center at (269) 686-4325.

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