Getting fit one step at a time

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Get In Step With Your Health: Walking can prevent or make it easier to manage health conditions that are dependent on weight and cardiovascular health, such as Type 2 diabetes. | File photo

8 tips for exercising safely

Increasing your activity level is great for diabetes, but it should be an enjoyable and safe experience. Here are a few simple things you can do, courtesy of the American Diabetes Association, to help prevent injuries, dehydration, and hypoglycemia when exercising:

1. Talk to your health care team about which activities are safest for you.

Your health care provider’s advice will depend on the condition of your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, feet, and nervous system.

2. Warm up for 5 minutes before starting to exercise and cool down for 5 minutes after.

3. Avoid doing activity in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Choose indoor options when the weather is extreme.

4. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after activity.

5. If you feel a low coming on, be ready to test for it and treat it. Always carry a source of carbohydrate to treat low blood glucose. This is especially important if you are on insulin and have Type 1 diabetes.

6. Wear a medical identification bracelet, necklace, or a medical ID tag that identifies you as someone with diabetes in case of emergency. Carry a cell phone in case you need to call someone for assistance.

7. 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.

8. Take care of your feet by wearing shoes and clean socks that fit well. Socks that are made of a material that reduces friction and pulls moisture away from your skin can also help protect your feet. Some examples are CoolMax, polypropylene, or acrylic (stay away from cotton). Inspect your feet before and after activity for blisters, redness, or other signs of irritation. Talk to your doctor if you have a foot injury or a non-healing blister, cut, or sore.

The American Diabetes Association

Walking is great exercise, and people of just about any age and fitness level can get out and walk.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, an author and expert in integrative medicine, walking is such a good exercise because it makes use of all muscles, promotes coordination and balance and carries the least risk of injury for people of any age.

The Mayo Clinic concurs, noting that physical exercise does not need to be complicated and that brisk walking can help a person to live a healthier life by providing a number of benefits, including:

Walking promotes maintaining a healthy weight through physical activity.

Walking can prevent or make it easier to manage various health conditions that are dependent on weight and cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that can help strengthen bones and promote good posture.

Exercise, like walking, has been known to benefit mood, specifically for those people battling depression.

What makes walking attractive to many people from a fitness standpoint is it doesn’t require learning any fancy moves, nor does one need to feel foolish when walking in public areas. People who walk for fitness have a greater chance of sticking with the activity than other exercises that may lose their appeal after a few months.

Walking provides many of the same benefits as jogging, only with less impact on the joints and feet. Walking also is less taxing on the heart, particularly for people who are adopting a more active lifestyle after a period of being sedentary. According to The Walking Site, the average person can burn approximately 100 calories per mile walked. During a brisk walk, with an average pace of 4 mph, a person can burn between 149 and 220 calories during a 40-minute walk.

­­— Creative Connection