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Walking with diabetes

You can walk anywhere, any time and it’s free. Now with our London Bridges Challenge is on the horizon, it could be time to step out of your comfort zone.

While while walking over all London's bridges is a target that may sound dizzying, taking up the challenge is not. Especially when you discover how many benefits there are to putting one foot in front of the other.

The benefits of walking

  • You can walk anywhere, any time and it’s free.
  • Walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.
  • Being active can also increase the amount of glucose (sugar) used by your muscles and so may lower blood sugar levels.
  • It can help the body to use insulin more effectively.
  • Walking is easy on joints and suitable for all levels of aerobic fitness.
  • Walking benefits your mind, too.

Top tip

If you want to go walking, but find you have painful joints, check whether your local swimming pool holds exercise classes. The water helps to support your joints while you move and ensures you still use your muscles.

Looking after your feet

While walking is considered a safe physical activity for people of all ages and fitness levels, it’s especially important for people with diabetes to take some precautions before they start pounding the pavements.

Everyone with diabetes needs to check their feet daily for any changes. Doing this after a walk is really important, in case of potential damage like blisters and cuts.

Anyone who has existing foot problems should speak to their diabetes team before taking up serious walking. Make sure you wear socks that don’t rub and appropriate footwear that fits well.

 

Expert advice from a personal trainer

Whether you’re a novice walker or are looking to boost your current activity levels, you need to set yourself realistic goals.

“Don’t set your targets too high knowing they may be unachievable,” says Siobhan Rootes, a personal trainer at Running with Us, an online coaching service.

As with any activity, seeing results takes time and it’s important to be consistent, setting yourself regular, achievable goals to increase your fitness.

“Think rest, recovery and nutrition as well as the activity itself,” says Siobhan.

“Everything needs to be in balance, so avoid two hard days in a row. Listen to your body. Eat well before exercising and eat well afterwards to recover successfully.”

 

Snacks before and after walking

Foods such as a banana or other piece of fruit, a slice of malt loaf or yogurt can make good pre-and post-walk snacks, but if you have diabetes, the amount and type of food you will need when walking will depend on when you last ate, how hungry you are and what is happening with your blood sugar levels.

Not everyone will need to have a snack before they walk and your nutritional needs will also vary depending on the distance and pace of the walk.

If you’re walking for over an hour at a vigorous pace think about having a snack during your walk. People who have Type 1 diabetes and people with diabetes who take medications that can lower blood sugar levels (such as sulphonylureas), should check their blood sugar levels before, during and after their walk as it may cause your levels to drop.

Stay safe when you walk. Make sure you carry hypo treatments to use if your blood glucose drops below 4mmol/l. Tell someone your route and make sure you have a diabetes ID on you at all times.

 

Find out more about London Bridges Challenge and register online

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