Research is now linking regular walks with lower risk of death from diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and some forms of cancer.
While many Americans fall short of the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, the great news is, these findings are found in individuals who walk less than two hours per week. Proof that even a short walk each day can make a huge difference in your health!
Walking has been touted as the ‘perfect form of exercise.' It’s free, doesn’t involve any complicated equipment, and is a form of physical activity that can be done at any age.
For diabetics, there are a few points to consider before embarking on your walks. First and foremost, check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is low, try snacking on a small orange. Wait about 15 minutes, then check your sugar again.
If your blood sugar levels are high, have a high-protein snack like a handful of nuts and a slice of cheese. Wait for blood sugar to stabilize (this could take up to an hour) before heading out on your jaunt.
Don’t forget to hydrate! Drink 8-16 ounces bottles of water before your walk, sip water throughout, and drink plenty of water once you’ve finished.
Safety is a must. Always be aware of your surroundings, and walk in secure, well-lit areas. If walking at night, be sure to wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight. Never walk in the road, always stay on the sidewalk.
This tip is especially crucial for diabetics – invest in a good pair of shoes. Individuals with high blood sugar need to choose real athletic shoes that are in good condition, are appropriate for the type of exercise you’re performing, and fit your feet correctly. For example, don’t go for a long walk in your flip-flops!
Also be mindful of any numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in your feet. Due to neuropathy, diabetics can sustain injuries (especially on the feet) without realizing. Check carefully for blisters, splinters, or redness every time you put your shoes on and take them off.
Start slowly. Do not give yourself unrealistic, unattainable goals. For example, your first exercise goal could be to take two walks each week. You can choose the days, you can choose the times, and you can choose to walk alone or with company.
As you walk, you may find that you enjoy it. You start walking several times a week, then jogging, maybe even running. You decide to try a 5K, then a marathon, then an Iron Man. Small goals can build into huge achievements!
Regular physical activity contributes nearly countless positive effects on your health, especially for those with diabetes. It helps your body make the best use of insulin and glucose, which controls blood sugar more effectively. In fact, exercise can reduce blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after working out!
Regular physical activity also lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and helps control cholesterol levels, thereby reducing risk of heart attack and stroke.
Exercise also helps to strengthen muscles and bones, along with burning extra body fat. It’s a great way to boost energy levels and reduce stress, too!
Even a short walk a few times a week can have a powerful impact on overall health and well-being. Walk with your spouse and talk about your day, or bring man’s best friend along. Take a few moments to reflect or meditate by yourself, or meet up with a group of friends and make it a party!
The moral of the story – just go for a walk!