Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetic Neuropathy: Exercising Safely - Topic Overview

Regular exercise may help control your diabetes, which can reduce your risk of severe diabetic neuropathy. Depending on what areas of your body have been affected by nerve damage, though, you may need to modify some aspects of your exercise program so that other problems don't develop.

Before beginning an exercise program, ask your doctor to do a thorough exam of your legs and feet for signs of peripheral neuropathy. And make sure you have properly fitted shoes to protect your feet from injury.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Cold and Flu Treatments for Diabetes

Catching a cold or the flu is no fun. It can be even worse if you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Learn more now about cold and flu treatments for diabetes so you'll be ready when you start to feel the aches, pains, and sniffles associated with colds and flu.

Read the Cold and Flu Treatments for Diabetes article > >

Exercising safely with foot problems

If you have nerve damage in your feet, you need to avoid repetitive, weight-bearing exercises, such as jogging, prolonged walking, and step aerobics. Repetitive stress on feet affected by neuropathy can lead to ulcers, fractures, and joint deformities. Stick to exercises that do not put stress on your feet, such as:

  • Swimming.
  • Bicycling.
  • Rowing.
  • Seated exercises.
  • Arm and upper-body exercises.
  • Other non-weight-bearing exercises.

Avoiding heart and blood pressure problems

Autonomic neuropathy affecting the heart and blood vessels may limit—but not eliminate—your capacity for exercise. It increases your risk of having a heart attack (often a silent heart attack) during strenuous exercise and may cause sudden shifts in your blood pressure during or after exercise. Make sure you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program. He or she can help you plan a gentle program that will improve your health without pushing you beyond your body's limits.

Maintaining safe body temperature during exercise

Autonomic neuropathy may reduce the body's ability to regulate its own temperature (thermoregulation). Abnormally profuse or abnormally reduced sweating are the usual signs of this problem. People with this type of neuropathy should not exercise in very hot or very cold environments because their bodies cannot safely adapt to these temperatures. Use silica gel or air midsoles and wear polyester or polyester/cotton blend socks to keep your feet dry during exercise. It is also important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. The body is better able to control its temperature when it is well hydrated.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Diabetic Neuropathy: Exercising Safely Topics

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article