People with type 2 diabetes may eventually find that they have lost mobility, either because a limb has been amputated or they otherwise need to use a wheelchair. While this change can make it hard to think about exercise and fitness, but successful diabetes management is still a priority — and still requires at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week.
Even if you have lost a limb, the other joints in your body still need to be active, so your goal is to manage diabetes and also keep the rest of your body in motion.
Joints get stiff if you don’t move them, says Patrice Winter, a physical therapist at George Mason University and in private practice in Fairfax, Va. “Joints are like a well-oiled machine. They need to be active.”
First Steps to Diabetes Exercise
Many people with diabetes who have impaired mobility will have to start with the basics before they can begin — or get back into — an exercise routine. This means focusing on range of motion and building up the strength of your heart and lungs so you can exercise. Winter says this is easier for people who begin their fitness training before surgery or loss of mobility.
Ideally, says Winter, you will be referred to a physical therapist or certified trainer who can help you plan a suitable fitness program and get you started with the first steps. You can also go online to find suitable programs; one is called SilverSneakers. Check with your health insurance to find out which types of rehab services and supplies are covered.
During rehab, you will also learn how to use your prosthesis or wheelchair. This may be a workout on its own! Once you have developed some strength, you will be able to move on to more strenuous exercise.
Here are some strategies you can try if you want to get back into an exercise routine: