Healthy Aging Tips from Sit and Be Fit's Mary Ann Wilson RN
Sit and Be Fit TV host, Mary Ann Wilson RN

Here are some great exercises for those managing Diabetes.

EXERCISES FOR POSTURE AND BREATHING
Begin seated in a chair with good posture, feet flat on the floor.

DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE
Starting position: sitting or standing. While inhaling deeply, pull elbows backwards. Inhale slowly with the back just slightly arched for a count of 5. Force the air out by gently contracting abdominal muscles. Repeat up to 10 times.

SPINE STRETCH
Starting position: sitting. Reach up toward ceiling with right arm. Reach down toward floor with left arm. Straighten arms and reach through the length of the fingertips, stretching as much as possible. Repeat exercise alternating arms: left arm up and right arm down.

YOGA STRETCH
Starting position: sitting. Place feet flat on the floor. Keep abdomen taut. Interlace fingers with palms facing away from you. Raise arms overhead. Hold position for 1 or 2 long breaths, then relax. Repeat.

EXERCISES TO INCREASE CIRCULATION
Complications of diabetes involving the feet are common. Decreased circulation results in poor healing of injuries, and neuropathy, or nerve damage, results in decreased sensation and loss of balance. Exercises for the feet and legs follow.

Begin seated in a chair with good posture, feet flat on the floor.

1. Raise toes as high as possible, keeping heel on floor. Then rock foot to raise heel as high as possible, keeping toes on the floor. Allow the toes to bend across the ball of the foot. Rock each foot back and forth 5 times.

2. Make 5 large circles with your toes, first in one direction, then the other. Be sure the movement is in your ankle, not your knee or hip. Then place toes on the floor, and make 5 circles with your heels, first in one direction, then the other.

3. Keep heels on the floor. Alternately lift up the toes and drop, as though marching toes.

4. Keep toes on the floor. Alternately lift up the heels and drop, as though marching heels.

5. While seated, march in place, alternating your feet 5 times each. Next, alternately straighten one knee, then the other 5 times each.

EXERCISES TO INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION
Hip and lower body flexibility and range of motion are important for someone managing Diabetes so they are able to inspect their feet easily.

Begin seated in a chair (preferably without arms) with good posture, feet flat on the floor.

1. Raise knee slowly up toward chest. (Keep back straight. Use the hands to assist as necessary.) Slowly lower. Repeat 5 times with each leg, bringing the knee a little closer to the chest each time. (Do not do this exercise if you have severe osteoporosis of your spine, or if you have had a hip replacement.)

2. Step foot slowly out to the side. Keep your knee over your foot. Step back to the center. Step out 4 more times, a little farther each time. Repeat with the other leg.

3. Remove shoes. Caution: Be careful not to scratch or injure skin. Carefully, walk heel of right foot up to left knee and back down to floor. It is oksy to use your hands to help. Repeat with left foot to right knee and back down to floor. Repeat 2 more times with each leg.

4. Place the right ankle on top of the left knee. It is okay to use your hands to help. Relax for 10 seconds in this position, and let gravity alone stretch the hip. As the motion in your hip improves, you may press downward gently on your knee to increase the stretch. Inspect your foot for reddened or injured areas, and gently massage it to help increase circulation.
(Everyone may not be able to do this exercise right away because of decreased hip range of motion. Work on exercises 1, 2 and 3 to improve your hip motion. If you’ve had a hip replacement, check with your doctor before attempting this exercise.)

EXERCISES TO IMPROVE BALANCE
Stand behind your chair, using the chair for balance. (Be sure you will be safe in case you do lose your balance.) Use the chair for balance only as much as is necessary.
1. Raise one foot slightly off the floor. Very slowly, put it back on the floor and slowly raise the other. Alternate feet several times. As you improve, you may raise your foot farther from the floor, and balance on the other foot longer.
2. Feet about shoulder width apart. Slowly shift weight from one foot to the other several times.
3. Place the heel of one foot right in front of the toe of the other foot. Slowly shift weight from one foot to the other. Switch the positions of your feet and repeat.

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