For individuals who have led a primarily inactive lifestyle or have been sluggish for an extended period, taking small steps toward becoming physically active is essential. Walking is an easy and manageable form of exercise to start with. By walking, you can help manage diabetes by raising your heart rate, which leads to deeper breathing and the burning of glucose in your bloodstream, thereby reducing blood sugar levels. Additionally, walking can enhance insulin performance in the body and has a low risk of injury, making it an ideal form of exercise for those with diabetes-related complications.
Studies conducted on patients with prediabetes showed that engaging in 15 minutes of light to moderate physical activity after meals can effectively prevent dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels throughout the day. Those with diabetes who walk for 2 hours weekly are less prone to heart disease-related death, and those who walk for 3-4 hours weekly further reduce their risk. Older individuals are more susceptible to developing diabetes, but a moderate amount of exercise can make a significant impact.
According to Kevin Furlong, exercise is the key to controlling blood sugar levels. A study in the journal Diabetes Care found that taking three short walks daily after meals was just as effective in lowering blood sugar levels over 24 hours as a single 45-minute walk at a moderate pace. The Diabetes Prevention Program, a groundbreaking 2002 multi-centre study, discovered that individuals with prediabetes who exercised for 150 minutes weekly lost approximately 7% of their body weight, significantly decreasing their likelihood of developing full-blown diabetes.
Walking Exercises for controlling diabetes
It’s essential to consult with your doctor before starting a walking exercise program to determine if it’s the correct form of exercise for you and to discuss any necessary precautions or adjustments to your medication and diet. It’s also essential to monitor your blood sugar levels before and after each walk to see how your body reacts and avoid any dangerous blood sugar drops. If you have been inactive, start with a few minutes of walking and gradually increase the intensity and distance as your body becomes accustomed to the exercise.
Before starting your walking exercise, preparing correctly before starting your exercise routine is essential.
- Shoes and socks
Protecting your feet from blisters and sores is very important. It’s essential to choose diabetic socks specifically designed for this purpose. Buy flat or flexible athletic shoes from a reputable running shoe store. Opt for athletic socks made of sweat-wicking polyester fibre rather than cotton or tube socks.
For a comfortable and successful walking workout, it’s essential to wear clothing that allows for ease of movement and prevents chafing. Choose a fitness T-shirt, shorts, yoga pants, or warm-up pants made of sweat-wicking polyester to avoid discomfort during exercise. Avoid cotton fabrics which can lead to excessive sweating and skin irritation.
- Where to Go for Walking
If you walk outside, you can plan your route and find a schedule that ensures a safe and uninterrupted way. A treadmill can be a great option if you prefer to walk at home. Another option is to use a track at a nearby park or school.
- Go for a foot check
It’s essential to check your feet before and after each walk for hotspots or blisters. These can develop into ulcers if not properly treated, so keeping an eye on your feet and seeking treatment as needed is essential.
Once you are done following the steps above, you are ready to walk.
Starting up with the workout
Before walking, warm up your body with a few simple steps. Stand up, and loosen your shoulders and neck with some shrugs and shoulder circles. Get your legs and hips ready by walking in place for a few minutes. Then, adjust your posture to ensure proper walking technique and brisk pace. Stand straight with your chin parallel to the ground, and your stomach pulled in. Tilt your hips slightly forward to engage your core muscles. Relax your shoulders and bend your arms. Now you’re ready to start walking.
To start your walking workout, prepare your body by performing a few warm-up exercises. Begin with simple shoulder and neck shrugs, then loosen up your legs and hips with a few minutes of walking. Next, adjust your posture by standing straight with your chin parallel to the ground, pulling in your stomach, and tilting your hips slightly forward. Relax your shoulders and bend your arms at the elbows.
Use the first three to five minutes of your walk as a warm-up session to increase blood flow to your muscles. Then, increase your pace to a brisk walk, where you are breathing heavier but still able to speak. To cool down, stroll for one to three minutes, then end your workout. Gradually increase the duration of your daily walk by a few minutes each week.
Keep track of your improvements.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help control blood sugar, improve overall health, and boost mood. As you continue your walking workout, tracking your progress and celebrating your milestones is essential. Keep a journal to record your distance, time, and any other observations you may have. This will help you to see the improvement you are making and to stay motivated. Remember to listen to your body and adjust your workout as needed. So, enjoy the journey and keep putting one foot before the other.