HEALTHY LIVING: Walk your way to diabetes control

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. Did you know that walking could help you manage your diabetes? It's true!

By stepping out of your front door this evening, you can start down the road to better health. Walking is great exercise, and since the only equipment you need is a good pair of shoes, the benefits of this activity far outweigh any anti-exercise excuses. Why not start today?

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the International Diabetic Athletes Association, exercise benefits people with both types of diabetes in three ways.

• Takes some glucose out of the blood to use for energy during and after exercise, which lowers blood glucose levels.

• Reduces risk factors for heart disease.

• Burns calories to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

• Helps you achieve good blood glucose control when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits.

Janet Bilyeu, APRN, of Siloam Springs Family Medicine, is accepting new and walk-in patients. Same-day appointments are often available. To schedule an appointment today, call (479) 215-3035. Siloam Springs Family Medicine is located at 3721 E. US 412 Hwy. in Siloam Springs.

Getting started

If these facts are tempting you to hit the road, the first place you should walk is to your doctor. The ADA recommends talking with your doctor and having a full medical examination before beginning any fitness routine.

This is especially important because of the effect exercise can have on your blood sugar. For example, people with Type 1 diabetes who exercise must carefully balance food, insulin and physical activity. You and your healthcare team should work together to find out what's best for you.

After receiving your clean bill of health, you'll be ready to get started. Fitness experts say goals are the key to getting motivated and staying active. When beginning your walking program, set a goal to walk a certain amount of time each week, such as 10 minutes three times a week. After meeting that goal, you can set a new one, increasing the frequency or duration of your walks.

Don't forget about your feet

Walking is great for your heart, but it can be hard on your feet. Because people with diabetes are prone to foot problems, it is of utmost importance that you take good care of your feet before, during, and after you work out.

These tips from the American Diabetes Association will help you keep your feet in top condition:

• After bathing, dry your feet, and seal in the moisture that remains with a thin coat of a lubricant such as petroleum jelly or hand cream.

• Don't put oils or creams between your toes. The extra moisture can lead to infection.

• Wear shoes that fit well with proper support. An ill-fitting shoe could cause blisters or calluses to form easily.

• Replace shoes when they begin to wear out, and always put on clean, smooth-fitting socks.

• Check your feet after exercise. Look for blisters, warm areas, or redness. If you do see problems, call your doctor.