Diabetes is a diagnosis all too many know. Successful management of this disease requires healthy living habits which commonly includes exercise. Exercise helps to improve cardiovascular health, manage blood sugar levels, increases levels of oxytocin (happy feeling hormone) and leaves the participant with an improved sense of well-being.
One of the major benefits of exercise is that it’s a natural way to lower your blood sugar and can have lasting effects of up to a few hours later. Therefore, exercise is commonly recommended for someone with diabetes to manage their blood sugar, in addition to prescribed medications. These results are not permanent however, which is why regular exercise is recommended. To improve regular participation, make sure to find a form of exercise you enjoy! As with any exercise it is important to check your blood sugar prior to and after exercise and to have a quick carb snack ready if needed. One form of exercise that can be especially beneficial for the diabetic population is Water Exercise or Water Aerobics.
The group atmosphere of a Water Exercise class can help to motivate and improve regular participation. Group fitness helps to promote a sense of belonging and accountability which is helpful if you are just starting to exercise. Water Exercise is also a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and meet new people, especially since there are so many fun classes to try for all fitness levels! Some popular classes include Aqua Zumba, Aqua Yoga, Hydrobike, SilverSneakers Splash, and more!
Exercising in water has many positive benefits for someone with diabetes. Water has unique properties which make it an attractive way for many people to exercise. One property is buoyancy, which helps to off-weight the participant and therefore decreases the load and stress on the body. This allows the participant to move their joints and extremities freely and reduces pain. The property of hydrostatic pressure is an especially important benefit for patients with diabetes. Hydrostatic pressure acts as an upward pressure from the bottom of the feet and moves upward through the body. This upward pressure assists with circulation of fluids and blood. Improved circulation is a huge benefit for someone with diabetes as they are prone to poor circulation in gravity dependent areas, such as the feet. This pressure can therefore help to prevent secondary complications due to poor circulation, such as wounds.
Water exercise can be especially beneficial for diabetes patients who may have poor balance due to peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can make it hard for someone to feel where their feet are in space as surfaces change, which places them at an increased risk for falls. Once in the water, these participants can achieve peace of mind because the pressure of the water will help to keep them upright. This helps to give them confidence and stability during exercise. While exercising in water, is important to take into consideration the necessity of proper footwear, such as aqua shoes, to protect the feet.
Foot protection is especially vital when in the water as prolonged exposure to moisture can cause softening or breaking of the skin. This is especially important for someone with diabetes to be cognizant of to avoid injury. Aqua shoes will not prevent skin softening but can help to maintain overall integrity of the feet. After exercising in the pool all participants, especially those with diabetes, should examine their feet for cuts or scrapes.
As with any new exercise program, be sure to check with your health-care provider first! They will be able to give you recommendations for any other special precautions you need to take. So, jump in, the water’s warm!