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Don't let foot problems sideline your fitness goals.

You've finally started that exercise program, and you're beginning to feel the excitement of a healthy new lifestyle.

But just as you're getting into the workout "zone," you're sidelined with achy feet -- corns, calluses, blisters, maybe even an injury that not only compromises your fitness goals but can make even waiting for the bus feel like you're standing on a bed of nails.

"The small foot problems that probably don't make much of difference at other times can suddenly become a very big deal when you begin putting significant stress on your feet, as you do when you're starting an exercise program," says podiatrist Dominic Catanese, DPM, director of the Podiatry Service at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

And if you suffer from diabetes, experts say, even seemingly insignificant foot woes can turn into major medical problems if you're not careful.

"When blood sugar isn't under good control you can develop neuropathy -- a lack of feeling in the feet that can prevent you from recognizing both the early warning signs of trouble, as well as when the problems themselves occur," says Morris Morin, DPM, chairman of the Department of Podiatry at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

This, combined with compromised circulation in the lower extremities, can also make it harder for even a simple foot injury to heal. "It can end up sidelining you for weeks or even months," says Morin.

The good news is that over time, feet can get used to new stresses, allowing skin to grow thicker and tougher so fewer problems occur.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of common workout-related foot problems and keep your feet feeling healthy and happy.

To help you put your best foot forward, WebMD asked three top foot specialists for advice. Here are five things they said you should know.

1. Don't Skimp on Footwear

It's hard to walk through you favorite discount emporium and not stop at those tables of sneakers piled high, selling for such a low price. But buy them, say experts, and your feet will pay.

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