Diabetes and Foot Infections: How To Protect Your Feet When Starting A Workout Program

Diabetes and foot infections can  be scary, but that shouldn’t keep a person from working out. As few as 39% of people with type II diabetes participate in regular exercise activities, compared with 58% of other Americans, according to studies by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.

This is a troubling statistic because working out can improve insulin activity and keep blood sugar levels under control — two things that are very important for diabetics especially. On top of that, exercise burns calories — which, in turn, can help diabetics lose weight.

While a person may not be able to completely cure type II diabetes, one can stop the progression of the disease, improve health significantly and eliminate the need for medication to control blood sugar levels through exercise and diet modification.

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Diabetes and Foot Infections: Keeping Feet Healthy

When starting a new workout routine, diabetics will need to be particularly mindful of their feet. Foot amputations are particularly common among people with diabetes, since foot infections can easily go unnoticed by people with peripheral neuropathy — a secondary condition most diabetics have. So what may be an ordinary blister, corn or cut for the average person could become an infected ulcer or dangerous situation for a diabetic.

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Preventing Blisters During A Workout

To prevent blisters, a person should always select shoes that fit properly. It’s best to shop for shoes at the end of the day, when the feet are most swollen. There should be about a thumb’s width between the toe and the tip of the shoe. During the first few weeks after buying a new pair of shoes, it’s best to wear them for just a few hours at a time to break them in. One should always feel the shoes for sharp or jagged pieces that may wear away at the skin. As shoes naturally wear out, new padded insoles can be added to minimize friction. Wearing thick, comfortable socks made from cotton blends during a workout is important to protect the feet as well.

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Post-Workout Best Practices

After a workout, it’s equally important to change wet socks right away and air out the shoes. Diabetics can use the SteriShoe UV light shoe sanitizer to kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria harbored in the shoes in just 45 minutes. Washing the feet and applying lotion or lanolin, filing down corns and calluses with a pumice stone, and checking the feet for skin aberrations daily are good practices to prevent diabetes foot complications as well.

Sticking With A Plan: Exercises For Diabetics

Diabetes and foot infections aside, it can be challenging to simply create a regular routine and stick with it. Yet, it is something that will become easier with consistency and time. Once a healthy “habit” is formed, exercising daily will become second nature. Many people find that exercising with a buddy is extremely motivational. Another strategy is to document physical activity and food consumption. Charting physical fitness progress with an Excel spreadsheet on your computer can be a rewarding and life-changing experience.

A 1988 study of adolescents found that compliance with a self-directed exercise program was possible with diabetic patients if the routine was fun and engaging. In the study, participants worked out to an exercise video set to popular music three times a week. Everyday Health says exercises like walking, tai chi, strength training, yoga, swimming and stationary cycling are also great options for people with diabetes.

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