Peripheral neuropathy is common in those with diabetes and can result in pain, numbness, and tingling. These symptoms can make it hard to complete daily tasks—let alone exercise. One of the most common reasons people with diabetes aren't getting enough exercise is pain. But according to research, exercising more often may help ease the pain associated with neuropathy.
Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or using an elliptical or stationary bike can get you moving without causing unnecessary pain. It’s important if you have peripheral neuropathy to make sure you are wearing proper footwear when walking outside. Get in the habit of always checking your feet after exercising; check for redness, swelling, and ulcerations. If you're walking frequently, it’s important to keep your toenails trimmed to reduce any irritation. Remember, you don't have to go out and walk five miles your first day. Start small and set goals that are achievable.
Easy at-home exercises
Exercise doesn't have to involve running or going to the gym every day. There are many exercises you can do in the comfort of your home while sitting or standing.
Knee raises. Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor, with your back straight. Lift one knee as high as you can while pointing your toes, hold for two to three seconds and release slowly down to the floor. Repeat 20 times with both legs.
Leg raises. Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor, with your back straight. Straighten your knee and lift your leg a couple inches off the chair. Hold your extended leg for two to three seconds, then slowly bend your knee and lower slowly to the ground. Repeat on both legs 20 times.
Toe tapping. Sit on a chair with your heels on the floor. Lift your toes off the ground, creating a tapping motion. You can also adjust the positioning of your heels; together with toes apart, or opposite with toes together and heels apart. Repeat 20 to 30 times. Put on your favorite song and tap to the beat. This is also a great exercise you can do while watching TV.
Chest press. While laying on your back on a bench, hold weights chest high with your elbows out. If you don't have small weights at home, you can fill water bottles with water or use half-gallon milk jugs. Push the weights straight out, not locking out your elbows. Slowly bring them back into your chest and repeat 20 times.
Seated curls. Sitting up straight, plant both feet firmly on the floor. Hold the weights near the top of your thighs and slowly raise them until they are shoulder height. Slowly lower the weight back to your thighs and repeat 20 times on both arms.
Arm raises. Stand with weights in hands and arms resting at your side. Slowly raise your arms creating a “T” with your body, hold for two to three seconds and slowly lower your arms. Repeat 20 to 30 times.
Any exercise you can fit into your day is better than doing none at all. It’s important to remain active and preserve mobility, especially when you're living with neuropathy. By working with your doctor, you can create an exercise routine that will keep you moving and may help reduce pain associated with neuropathy.