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Ways to Exercise with Diabetes Complications: How to Do it Safely

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Dec 19, 2022

    Ways to Exercise with Diabetes Complications: How to Do it Safely

    Exercise is important to live a healthy life. The physical and mental benefits of including exercise in your routine are many. But if you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels to know if your body is responding in a positive way to the workouts you are doing. Exercise with diabetes isn’t easy. However, read on to understand how you can turn exercise and diabetes into an effective combination.

    Diabetes and health conditions

    If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have other medical complications. Common complications include

    It is important for an individual with diabetes to stay active. Exercises require a lot of strength and movement. Therefore, exercising with diabetes and related health conditions might get really difficult. But saying a complete ‘no’ to exercise is not an option. So, it is advised to go slow at the initial stages.

    On the first day, go for a 15-minute walk. Continue the routine for a few days. Once your body gets used to the routine, increase your walking time by another five minutes. Repeat the procedure until your body supports 30 minutes of walking every day. Walking is the best exercise for diabetes as you can do it anywhere, anytime.

    Also, talk to your doctor about exercising with diabetes, thye might suggest you to make a few changes in your workout routine according to your medical condition and physical health. Your health care professional might also ask you to make changes in your diet and lifestyle that will help you to get the desired results. The one thing that is important while you perform any form of exercise is maintaining hydration. Make sure you stay hydrated and carry a bottle of water every time you head to the park or gym.

    Exercise with diabetes complications

    People with diabetes are more likely to get diseases related to the foot. This is because it causes the nerves in your feet to get damaged that results in you not having any sensation even if you get a cut or an injury. Since diabetes makes it difficult to have a free flow of blood and oxygen to the feet, it becomes difficult for your feet to heal completely after an injury. Exercising with diabetes might become a problem in such a situation.

    If you are a diabetic and have a foot injury, avoid exercises that will put excess pressure on your feet. Avoid running, jogging, or hiking. You can try exercises such as swimming, cycling, yoga, meditation, etc. Make sure you monitor your feet properly every day after the workout session. Keep your feet clean.

    Exercise with diabetes and heart disease

    Diabetes increases the risk of developing heart diseases and kidney diseases. It is important for you to perform light exercises that will not put excess stress on your body. If possible, exercise under the guidance of an expert.

    Go for a light exercise such as walking, yoga, meditation, etc. Avoid lifting heavy weights. Doing strenuous exercises will put pressure on your heart.

    If you plan to start exercising with diabetes and heart disease, talk to your doctor about your fitness goals. Follow all the instructions provided by the doctor. Make a habit of monitoring your blood sugar level and heart rate every time before and after the workout session. Take a break if you experience shortness of breath.

    In some cases, diabetes can also cause damage to your vision. The condition is called retinopathy. If you have the condition, it is advised to perform exercises that are light such as walking, water aerobics, and swimming. Avoid lifting heavy objects. Avoid running or any exercise that requires peripheral vision.

    Exercise with diabetes and neuropathy

    Diabetes reduces the transportation of oxygen to the blood vessels, disturbing the nerve signals. This may result in the abnormal behavior of the nerves called neuropathy.

    The common symptoms include a feeling of numbness and dizziness. This abnormal behavior of the nerves may not only cause numbness of your hand and feet, but also have an effect on the proper functioning of your heart and other important organs.

    If you have the condition, try exercises that do not require excess movements. Exercises such as swimming, water aerobics, cycling, or strength training work for you. Avoid exercises that will put excess stress on your body as well as your mind.

    While doing exercises make sure you monitor your heart rate, blood sugar levels, etc. If you experience shortness of breath or sudden numbness in any part of your body, immediately stop the exercise.

    Tips to remember

    Keep in mind the following tips when exercising with diabetes:

    • Having a pair of good shoes are a must. Using good shoes helps you with the desired results. But if you are someone with diabetes, having good shoes helps you to prevent your feet from nerve damage. As you exercise, there are chances of you getting cuts or sores, which can further lead to infections. For someone with abnormal sugar levels, it takes a longer time to heal the cuts and sores.
    • Monitor your blood sugar levels before and after the workout session. Carry fruit with you; if you notice abnormal blood sugar levels, you must eat it.
    • Monitor your body regularly. Check if you have any cuts, redness, blisters, or sores.
    • Follow a schedule. Make a schedule where you have a specific time dedicated to workout, meals, and sleep.
    • Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water throughout the day.
    • Maintain a journal. Make a note of blood sugar levels pre- and post-workout.
    • If you notice excess body pain or difficulty in breathing, immediately stop the exercise.

    Before making any exercise a part of your daily routine, it is important to talk to your doctor. Understand if the exercise is safe for you or does it involve any potential risks. You can even ask your doctor to design a customized fitness routine for you.

    Key Takeaways

    Heavy workout increases the chances of having abnormal levels of blood sugar. For someone with diabetes, it is a little risky to perform strenuous exercises as there are several potential complications involved. However, that should not stop you from being physically active. With proper precautions and choosing the right exercises, you will be able to achieve your fitness goals.

    Learn more bout Diabetes Complications here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Dec 19, 2022

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