Diabetes not only affects blood sugar, it can affect how your blood flows. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels which can lead to plaque forming in the blood vessels rendering them unable to deliver a sufficient amount of blood. If you have pain when walking, leg cramping, numbness or tingling in your feet or toes, you may have poor circulation.
The good news is that for those living with diabetes, the same things you do to keep your blood sugar levels controlled can also help enhance your circulation.
• Follow the meal plan you have worked out with your nutritionist.
• Check your blood sugar everyday and continue to follow through with your number based on the timing you set up with your doctor.
• Use the action plan you created with your doctor to know when to call the office about blood sugar readings.
• Exercise regularly. Good choices if you have reduced sensitivity in your feet or legs include: swimming, water aerobics, water walking, walking, yoga and tai chi.
Take Good Care of Your Heart
Follow through on everyday, heart-healthy actions that keep the blood flowing.
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of other heart-healthy guidelines, but this one is a good start. Ask your nutritionist for others.
Learn how to exercise without leg pain. Luckily, when you start exercising regularly, your body forms new, small blood vessels, which helps improve your circulation and can ease pain. (It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)
• For your warm up, walk, swim, or do your choice of activity at a pace that doesn’t cause pain.
• Keep exercising. Don’t over exercise at one time but try to increase the time gradually.
• When you keep at it, the time you can exercise without pain will keep increasing. You goal is to gradually be able to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes without pain.
If you don’t know your health scores, find out your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. There may be an underlying problem you can’t fix until you know about it. Find out if you do and get help.
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Mayo Clinic: “Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)”
Diabetesforecast.org: “13 Tips for Healthy Feet”
Vascular Web: “Diabetic Vascular Disease”
eMedicinehealth: “Diabetic Foot Care: Self-Care at Home”
Medline Plus: “Peripheral Artery Disease of the Legs—Self-Care”
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC): “Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes.”
American Podiatric Medical Association Video: “Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease”