For someone struggling with diabetes, diet is not the only factor that needs changing. It is extremely important that the individual prioritises an active lifestyle just as much.
Even studies (R) have found walking to be one of the most effective physical activities for diabetes. It is not just easy, it is soothing and relaxing and you don’t require a setting to get started. You can do it in your lawn or even the road just outside your house.
It helps regulate the blood glucose levels and ensure better health in the long run. It is also one of the most effective ways to pertain the impacts of insulin resistance in the body.
Is it important to consult the doctor?
Even though there is no negative to walking for your diabetes, it is always best to consult a doctor first.
Before you jump into any of the new exercise programs, it is extremely important that you get the routines approved by your doctor. Make your doctor check your activity capacity and whether or not the same is good enough for you to follow through.
The physician will also be able to write off any side effects and precautions that you need to take, in case things take a turn for the worse.
How Does Walking Help Diabetes?
The correlation of walking with diabetes is not just folklore. It actually does help with the management of diabetes in the long run.
Just 30 minutes walking cycle can inflict a number of positive benefits on your health, especially when it comes to controlling the symptoms that one experiences.
Proper Glucose Control
If your blood sugar levels are always spiked, one of the best ways to recover is by walking. Exercise has been proven to help the muscles soak up the excess blood sugar levels and preventing it from being in the bloodstream.
But, this is a gradual process and not something that will be effective just after walking for a day or two. Sometimes, the effects last for a few hours and sometimes a few days.
Improved Heart Health
Diabetes itself is not the problem. The kind of complications that it brings along is what makes the situation worse.
Studies (R) have found that diabetes patients have a heightened rate of heart disease risks.
Walking helps keep both the conditions in check and your health in the perfect shape.
Obesity is one of the risk factors of diabetes.
In case you don’t want the implications of that to barrel in your condition of diabetes even further, it is important that you walk for 20-30 minutes in a day.
Walking helps burn calories in the body and improves the weight loss results.
Emphasis on Foot Care While Walking
When it comes to walking for diabetes, foot care is something you just can’t take for granted. If you have a podiatrist around you, consult them because maintaining foot health is extremely crucial for diabetics.
Any kind of negative impacts on your foot including abrasions, blisters etc. are often hard to detect because the patients experience numbness around their foot.
In case your foot condition is not the best, consulting a podiatrist can help you provide alternatives or the precautions that you need to take to keep your health in check.
What kind of shoes should one invest on?
With so much emphasis on foot health, it goes without saying that shoes play a crucial role in walking too. You don’t necessarily have to buy expensive shoes but keep certain factors in mind while buying the walking shoes.
When you are buying shoes for walking, it is necessary that the shoes fit comfortably. You don’t need them to be too loose or too tight. Make sure that you can move around your toe freely after wearing the shoe. This is necessary.
Try and avoid the running shoes because those come with more flex and flatter around the foot. You don’t need that.
It is not just the shoes that you need to focus on, the socks matter just as much. Cotton socks are often the best option as they help soak in the moisture in the feet easily
Avoid the uncomfortable synthetic fabrics because they do no good to your feet and will only cause your feet to sweat more while walking.
Effective tips for walking for diabetes that works
If you are convinced enough to start walking, it is necessary that you know about some of the effective tips that can make this journey a lot easier for you.
Even the American Association of Diabetes have clarified that there are no restrictions as to what kind of exercises a diabetic can indulge in. So, go ham.
Some of the best tips for walking with diabetes include:
Get into a habit first
Since diabetics have the habit of being lethargic because of the lack of energy, there will often be times when you won’t feel like getting up and out of the door.
This is the reason why forming a habit is important. This is crucial and can help you get into a routine.
Experts also do suggest that the diabetics should go out for walking at least 4-5 days a week for better results. You can either walk slowly, as per your capacity, or you can even amp it up with brisk walking gradually building it up for 30 minutes.
There are several starting plans that you will come across on the internet. In case you don’t want to avail them, make a plan of your own.
Shoes and socks matter
Now, you might not take this seriously but both the shoes and the socks matter when we are talking about walking with diabetes.
The right pair of shoes that are comfortable can help elevate the overall experience for you. It prevents the risks of blisters and ensures that you are comfortable while walking as well.
Aside from that, socks are just as much of a mandate. They help soak up the excess moisture from the feet and keeps the risks of infections and abrasions in check.
Since wound healing takes time for diabetics, wearing socks help keep the feet protected from the risks of shoe bites and infectious wounds which are common when you initially start walking.
Analyse your blood sugar levels
This might not seem like an important factor to do but checking your blood sugar levels before and after walking is a necessity.
In case your blood sugar level is too low, which is below 140mg/dL, you need to consume some carbs before you can go out for the walk. Persistent physical activity with low blood sugar levels can end up making you faint.
Try and eat something and wait for 15 minutes for your blood sugar to come to normal levels before you step outside of the house.
Similarly, in case your blood sugar levels are higher than 300, it is necessary that you avoid going for a walk and skip it out that day. If you are someone who goes out for walks quite often, it is extremely important that you do focus on getting your blood sugar levels checked every once in a while.
Ascertain the timing
We have 24 hours in a day. So, what time is the best for walking? This is a question that is commonly asked by the diabetics.
For the type-1 diabetics, it is extremely important that you opt for exercising or walking around in the mornings when the insulin level is at its peak. It ensures better management of the insulin and helps you keep your health in check.
Other than that, studies (R) have also found that one of the best times to go out for a walk is 30 minutes after a meal.
Keep an eye out on the insulin dosage
One of the primary reasons why walking is advised for diabetes is because it helps keep your blood sugar and insulin levels in check.
So, when you are making it a habit, it is necessary that you keep an eye out on the insulin dosage.
In case your body doesn’t need the prior dosage that you had been taking before you started walking, it is necessary that you consult your physician about the same.
Get your insulin levels checked from time to time to ensure that the insulin dosage is adjusted accordingly.
Carry a snack with you
While walking, it is common for your blood sugar levels to fall low. In such cases, it is always advised that you carry a snack with you to avoid any further risks.
Additionally, diabetics are often suggested to consume more carbs after finishing their walk to combat the risks of hypoglycemia.
In case you are amping up your walking intensity and such, it is extremely important that you do keep an eye out on the blood sugar levels.
Carrying a snack ensures that you won’t faint midway and have something to buffer the sudden drop in the sugar levels in the blood.
Carry a water bottle
Hydration is extra important for diabetics. Since they already have the tenacity to feel thirsty quite often, the last thing you want is to feel parched while walking.
Drinking plain water is enough if you are going out on a simple walk around for 30 minutes.
But, in case you are indulging in a high-density walkout for 2 hours or so, it is extremely important that you rely on drinks that will help replenish your lost electrolytes too.
Get yourself a walking buddy
Now, this might sound farfetched but having a buddy for your walking schedule makes you more dedicated and motivated into doing it.
Having a buddy ensures that you can keep an eye out on your health and protect yourself during the walk, in case something goes wrong.
Walking with a buddy also ensures that you are walking out every day, which is likely not going to be very persistent when you don’t have someone to motivate you along the way.
In case you have a severe case of diabetes, wearing a medical emergency bracelet to let people know about your condition in case you or your buddy needs help.
Know the signs
Lastly, before you decide to start walking, it is extremely important that you familiarise yourself with the basics signs of hypoglycemia.
There are a number of symptoms that can affect your health and in case you don’t want things to get worse for you, knowing the signs will help you act on it better.
Some of the common signs of hypoglycemia include:
- Cold and clammy hands
- Increased heart rate
In case you experience any of these symptoms while out on a walk, it is extremely important that you find somewhere to sit and collect yourself. If you have a snack on hand, eat it and relax for a few minutes.
How to start a walking program for diabetes?
Now that you know the tips that go into the process, it is important that you know more about the walking programs.
Since diabetes does come with its fair share of challenges, you just can’t up and start walking. It is necessary to have a concrete plan and strategy to execute it the right way. In order to make a successful walking program for diabetics, there are some important steps that one needs to follow.
- Start with a slow process and avoid trying to go all out just yet. It is important that you build up your stamina. So, start by walking 10 minutes the first day and then working your way up from there. Avoid walking to a point that you feel sore. This can put a full stop even before you start walk. This is the reason why it is always best that you start small and steady.
- Keep the targets similar for each week. So, if you are walking for 10 minutes the first week, keep it like that for the first week. Then, gradually increase it by another 5 minutes for the next week. Like this, you want to gradually amp it up to 45 minutes to an hour, walking a minimum of five days a week for better results.
- Take some breaks in between. If you are walking for 30 minutes today, try and break it up into two segments of 15 minutes each instead of walking consistently. This lets you calm your body down and even promotes better breakdown and utilisation of the sugar molecules in the body.
- Wear a tracker. This is not necessarily mandatory but this can help keep track of your steps and your level of fitness. So, in case you have been trying to keep a track of things, this is a must have for you, without any further complaints at all.
- Setting a specific place for walking is amazing. It helps you build a routine but at the same time, it is also quite helpful in enhancing your social skills for the better. Parks and community centers are often quite an amazing option. In case you have a garden out back of your house, that is a good option as well.
How much walking is enough for diabetes control?
When talking about walking for diabetes, one of the most common concerns that people have does not know when to stop.
Should I walk for 1 hour or 2?
The 30-minutes walking plan is often considered one of the best options when it comes to diabetes control.
This includes walking continuously for 20 minutes briskly followed by walking a slower walk for the next 5-10 minutes
This helps keep your body in the best shape and ensures that you don’t necessarily struggle when it comes to your health.
It is also believed that the walkers who log around 10,000 steps (R) a day consistently are more likely going reach their goal a lot faster in comparison to the ones who don’t.
This is one of the primary reasons why the doctors suggest have a fitness tracker with you while out for a walk. This helps provide with better insights and lets you plan things accordingly.
If you have been skeptical about starting walking for diabetics, now is the time to do so. It is not just healthy for your overall well being, it helps regulate your blood sugar and blood insulin levels and even helps prevent the unnecessary risks that come with diabetes. It is very important to consult a doctor however before you start the process of walking. This is necessary to keep an eye out on your overall well being and your situation with diabetes.