Neuropathy can present a variety of challenges, because in neuropathy, the nerve-endings of your feet, toes, and fingers can cause a burning sensation that is sometimes very painful. Meanwhile, people with diabetes are encouraged to exercise regularly to help lower blood sugars — but exercise might be one of the last things you want to do when the bottom of your feet are burning and tingling!
Fortunately, not all exercises require repetitive movement or impact on your feet. Here are three types of exercise you can participate in fully without exacerbating your neuropathy:
Swimming. Even if you're not the most agile fish in the sea, joining a water aerobics class or even simply treading water for 15 t0 20 minutes several days a week can exercise your heart and lower blood sugars. It's also great for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. If neuropathy is keeping you off your feet, it's definitely time for a pool membership! Bonus: Look for a place with an outdoor pool for summer activity; swimming in the sunshine might make you even more likely to work out.
Tai Chi. While walking can be a great way to de-stress and unwind at the end of a day, it can be pretty painful with neuropathy. Instead, you can find some of those same gentle benefits from a Tai Chi class! There will be no repetitive impact on your feet, it encourages de-stressing and mindfulness and you'll be surprised to hear that this gentle form of exercise can definitely get your heart-rate up and even get you to sweat a little. Give it a try!
Cardio Machines. While many aspects of a typical gym workout might not be suitable for a person dealing with burning feet and fingers, cardio machines such as a spin bike, reclined bike, elliptical, and cross-trainer (very similar to the elliptical) provide incredible ways to get your heart-rate up without any major impact on your feet or gripping of your hands.
Diabetic neuropathy does not have to leave you stranded at home on the couch. In order to prevent further progression of your neuropathy, exercise and lower blood sugars are crucial. Dip your toes in the water (so to speak) of one of these types of exercise, and find one you enjoy!