Physical therapy and diabetes preventionNovember 11, 2015
November is National Diabetes Awareness month. Diabetes mellitus is a worldwide health problem characterized by the body’s inability to break down sugar due to an inefficiency of the hormone insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, the toll of diabetes is significant if left unchecked.
Facts about diabetes
• Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
• Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
• Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults.
• The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than people without diabetes. About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.
You may be at risk for diabetes, especially if your hemoglobin A1C levels are above the normal limit. Ask your physician if this test is right for you.
Physical activity, healthy nutrition and stress management are important factors in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. A consult with your physical therapist can create a safe, progressive exercise program that enables your body to become more sensitive to insulin and effectively remove extra glucose from your bloodstream. The goal is to normalize your blood glucose levels and improve your hemoglobin A1C readings.
Some benefits of regular physical activity
• Decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke
• Increase in calorie expenditure to enable weight loss
• Boost in energy and ability to perform daily activities
• Improved sleep patterns
• Stress relief
• Strengthening of the heart and better blood
• Strengthening of muscles and bones
• Better range of motion in joints
• Better balance which helps to prevent falls
• Happier, healthier, better quality of life
5 tips for safe exercise
For diabetics, exercise should be a safe, enjoyable and positive experience. When planned correctly, exercise will leave you energized, not fatigued. Here are five exercise tips for individuals with diabetes:
1. It is essential to avoid injuries and remain hydrated. It is also important to have some fast acting sugary food available in the event of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. This is critical for individuals who are on insulin and have type 1 diabetes. As your physical therapists, we can advise you about the best and safest type of exercise.
2. As a general rule, we encourage you to warm up for 5 minutes before starting to exercise and cool down for 5 minutes at the end. You will be advised to drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity to stay hydrated.
3. If you feel uncomfortable, you should rest for a few minutes and see if you feel better. We can teach you how to understand your energy levels and listen to your body.
4. Use the “talk test” to make sure you are not pushing yourself too hard. If you become short of breath and you can’t talk, then slow down. As your fitness level improves over time, you’ll be able to exercise at a higher intensity and chat with others while you do it.
5. Make sure to wear shoes and clean socks that fit you well. Look inside your shoes before wearing them to make sure there is nothing in them that might hurt you or make you feel uncomfortable. Always examine your feet before and after activity for blisters, redness, or other signs of irritation. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience pain or notice a blister, cut, or sore.
If you have diabetes, the best thing you can do is to make sure you work with your physician to be on the right meds. Your physical therapist is also there to get you started with and maintain an exercise program that will help you live healthier with your diabetes.