How To Exercise With Diabetic Retinopathy
It is important for people with diabetes to exercise. Regular exercise helps to control glucose and helps maintain good circulation throughout the body. It also decreases anxiety and generalized depression. Daily exercise needs to be part of the medical plan for anyone with diabetes.
Working out with diabetes can sometimes be challenging, due to complications from the diabetes itself or from other conditions. Diabetic Retinopathy is one such complication that requires some research before beginning. In most cases, it is just fine for people with diabetic retinopathy to exercise. However, there are a few things you need to know.
1. Get your medical team to give you the okay to begin a program, and to outline any types of moves you should avoid. Your doctor or Certified Diabetic Educator should have the knowledge and resources to either advise you, or put you in touch with someone who can.
2. Your cardio workouts need to be steady, not the kind with sudden, intense bursts of energy. The High intensity Interval Training (otherwise known as HIIT) will not generally be recommended for you. A slow warm up and then a gradual increase toward your target heart rate is best. Stay at that rate for as long as you can and then slowly cool down. This allows your vascular system to adjust. Drastic blood pressure changes are not good for those with diabetic retinopathy. Walking, swimming, stationary bikes, and some home workouts will be great for you.
3. Weightlifting is okay as long as you remember: Do not power lift. That means keep your weights light. Do not hold your breath on the lift. Always keep your breathing steady and breathe out as you exert or lift.
4. For people whose sight is changing, or whose vision can be affected by blood pressure fluctuations, avoid exercises which cause your head to be below your heart. That means that you can do yoga but there will be some poses that you will need to skip or modify.
For more information on exercising with diabetic retinopathy, you can refer to the Joslin Diabetes Center among many others.
Now for some additional good news! BlindAlive has created Eyes-Free Fitness® exercise programs that are ideally suited for people with diabetes. They are completely described so you don’t need to see a screen to do them. The ones I recommend for people with diabetic retinopathy are: the Gentle Workout Set. This is a series of 20 minute workouts. It includes cardio, upper body strengthening and core, lower body and balance, and a light warm up and stretch. This one is perfect for most people because it can be done in a chair or standing.
Next, Pilates Chair With Ring is completely done in a chair. It uses a Pilates ring which creates the resistance needed for strengthening.
We also have Chair Yoga, which is an excellent way to reap all the benefits of yoga while avoiding those exercises which would place your head in a position that is below your heart. It will calm you down and strengthen you at the same time.
For a nice steady cardio session, we have Cardio Level One. This is a fun, upbeat workout. There may be a couple of spots you will want to modify but for most people it will be fine.
The Whole Body Stretch is great for everyone. Stretching keeps all our muscles elastic and our joints flexible. It is helpful whether or not you do any additional exercise.
You can stay home to exercise. There is no need to go to a gym or struggle to find transportation. Everything you need to complete a life giving workout is here for you. Exercising will help you cut down on your medications and you will feel accomplished. We will help you.
Good health to you,