According to the American Diabetes Association, about 23.6 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes, a chronic life-time disease that can only be managed through lifestyle changes and regular medication. Diabetes can narrow and harden the blood vessels in the feet and legs leading to improper and poor circulation in the areas. The lack of proper blood circulation in different parts of the body may make it difficult to feel heat, pain or cold. Exercising, at such a juncture, can prove to be beneficial as it can increase blood flow to the legs.
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[Read: Exercise for Diabetes]
Performing stretching exercises can help reduce stress levels, improve blood circulation through the body and elongate the tight muscles. Stretching the different muscles, especially those connected affected by diabetes increases the amount of blood flow. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least two sessions of stretching per week that involve all the major muscles of the body.
You may also do extra stretching exercises for your calves, feet and ankles to improve circulation that is negatively impacted by diabetes. To stretch your calves, stand in front of a wall. Press the ball of your left foot against the wall and dig your heel into the ground. Your hands should be extended directly in front of the shoulders and on the wall. Place the ball of your right foot 24 inches from the wall. Lower the chest towards the wall while you press the ball of the left foot against the wall. Stop as soon as you feel a stretch in your left calf and hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat the exercises.
Ankle rotations increase blood flow to the ankles, toes and feet. To rotate your ankles, sit on a comfortable chair and rest your feet on the ground. Lift the right foot about 12 inches from the ground and point the toes away from the body. Use the big toe to form a circle toward the right. Keep the leg still while you rotate your feet to ensure maximum blood flow to the ankles. After about ten circles, switch the direction the repeat the same. After about ten circles each on either side, switch foot.
Forms of aerobic exercise that focus on the lower body include dancing, walking, swimming and biking. Make sure that you protect your feet by wearing comfortable shoes that offer the right amount of cushioning that the feet need.
To ensure that you maintain good health despite diabetes, it is important to never stop doing the above exercises.
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