Diabetes and Exercise: Walking
Walking is a popular, cheap, and easy way to fit in exercise for people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. It can help you manage your blood glucose levels, lose weight if you need to, and get in shape.
As with other forms of exercise, walking is an essential component in what's called the three-pronged approach to controlling diabetes and blood glucose levels—a healthy diet, medication (eg, insulin) if you need it, and exercise.
What's great about walking is that anyone can do it, and you can walk anywhere and at any time. For example, you can take a brisk walk outdoors and listen to music while you stroll, or you can read a magazine while you walk on the treadmill at the gym.
You can also walk indoors at the mall. Mall walking is a safe exercise idea because it's done in a climate-controlled, security-guard patrolled environment. Many malls have walking clubs. Check to see if your local mall has one or start your own with a group of friends.
When you walk, vary the pace of how fast you walk as well as the size of your strides. These walking intervals can help you burn more calories. Remember to maintain an upright posture. Keep your chin parallel to the ground and your shoulders back and down. Let your arms swing naturally.
For a more advanced walking program, you can carry small hand weights to increase your calorie burn.
Although there really aren't any rules when it comes to walking, be sure to warm up and cool down for each walk. Also, avoid walking in extremely hot or in extremely cold weather.
You'll need to wear proper shoes and socks when you walk, too. Taking good care of your feet, especially if you have diabetic neuropathy (which affects the nerves in your feet) is important. Learn more about diabetic neuropathy on another of our health information websites, EndocrineWeb.
Consult with your doctor before beginning a walking program for type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. When you incorporate walking into your routine, you'll gradually start to see an improvement in your physical fitness, as well as your blood glucose levels.