Archive for October 2014

Let us walk to good health

Let us walk to good health

From time immemorial, man has been walking for traveling to reach one place, to hunt and gather food for self and family and also in search of a better place to live. Those were the days when there was no transport. God gave humans the legs so they could walk upright which is a feature not common among the animals by nature, though some animals can walk upright with training. Unfortunately, with the advent of modern transportation facilities as well as time pressures and deadlines to be met, people have literally forgotten to use their legs for the use they were meant to be used.

 

Benefits of walking
This is probably the safest form of exercise which can be done by anybody provided the eyesight is good and there is no neuropathy ( affection of the nerves which can cause lack of sensation on the feet making the person unaware of where the feet are planted on the ground).
The farther, faster and more frequently one walks can definitely improve the benefits by many folds. Walking also improves the balance and strengthens bones and muscles besides improving circulation.
Walking is proven to prevent the onset of diabetes, depression, cancer, joint problems, osteoporosis ( fragile bones) and heart ailments. This also helps the worsening of the above. The swinging action of the arms, the strides taken while walking, the fresh air , the sights to enjoy ( one does not get these benefits while walking the treadmill in the confines of either the gymnasium or home) and change in pace while walking navigating the turns all help in improving the muscle power and co-ordination.
Walking in groups with either your colleagues or with friends and family all could be entertaining as well you could even do long distances without being aware of the distance covered at all.

Walking at a speed of 6 km/hour , which amounts to a brisk walk, can burn up to 600 Kcals. But, may be not all can walk as fast. Some may be having either knee or back problems which needs a slower pace. But walking at any given speeds whether unaided or with the help of a walking stick is much better than not walking at all. Parking the car away from where you wish to go and just walking to your destination helps. You may still park close to your destination ( especially during the summer time when the heat maybe quite strong) and take a longer route rather than choosing the shortest route or just walking along the aisles in the malls are good options.
Walking with small children and pets is also a good option.

Ensure the following before walking:
• Check the blood sugar before walking.
• Ask your health care provider if it is safe to embark on a regime.
• Go at a pace comfortable. Walking should not leave one gasping for breath.
• It is okay to rest in between.
• It is okay to take sips of water in between the walk and before the walk.
• If you experience feeling of nausea, chest discomfort, pain in the arms, jaw or back while walking, please seek medical help immediately.

Stretching before any exercise program:
Proper stretching before any exercise or even walking can help tone up the body and prevent joint problems.
Some of the commonly done stretches:

 

Calf stretches- calf stretch

 

Stand at an arms length distance from the wall. Keep one leg forward with knees slightly bent. The other leg with knee straight and heel down. Keeping back straight, move hips towards the wall and feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat with other leg.

 

Quadriceps stretch- quadriceps stretch

 

While supporting a fixed structure, grasp the ankle with one hand and pull the heel up and down till one feels the stretch in the front of the thighs. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and then repeat with other side.

 

Hamstrings stretch-

hamstrings

 

Sit on one chair, and keep the other leg on another chair in front. Keeping the back straight, bend the pelvis forward till a stretch is felt in the back of the thighs.

 

Low back stretch- lying on the back with the feet kept flat and knees bent, bend the knees ( both together or separately) towards the chest using both hands. If one has knee problems, one can hold hands behind the thighs instead.

 

Chest stretches- chest stretches

Clasp hands behind the head. Pull elbows gently by pinching the shoulder blades together.

How to walk?

The ideal way of walking involves walking upright, head held up eyes looking forward, chest pulled out, shoulders thrown back, landing the feet on the heel and taking the stride on their toes. Swing the arms freely slightly bent at the elbows. Walking with small weights held in the hands further enhance the calories burned.
The neck, shoulder and back must be relaxed and not stiff. While walking the treadmill one usually does not maintain these as people have to be holding onto the side railings and the back is usually arched back and stiff to prevent slipping.
Please make sure the footwear is of a good quality and have the insoles and heels checked for wear and tear. View the shoes from behind. If the shoe is tilted to one side, it is time to change the shoes. Change the shoes after it has done 400-600 km.

walking to good health 17
One should dress appropriately in attire that suits the climate, a comfortable and well padded pair of shoes, a scarf or hat as the case may be and some music if needed to be played and listened with an ear phone if needed. Generally the pavements are safe, but it still pays to look ahead and down as well.
150 minutes of any exercise a week is recommended. You can do 30 minutes 5 days a week or split that every day in some form like three sessions of ten minutes each or two sessions of fifteen minutes each.
The long term goal is to make 10000 steps a day. This is ideal for maintaining good health.
One needs to walk at least 30 minutes a day to maintain his or her weight and at least 45 minutes a day to have some weight reduction.
A pedometer is a small device which can be clipped on to the belt or kept in your pocket close to your body. This will count the steps one takes during the course of your daily chores such as walking, climbing stairs, jogging and even adventure sports. But, pedometers vary in their function.

clipped on pedometer

pedometer

 

Get to know your pedometer

 

Ease of use: Some of the pedometers just have to be clipped and it starts. These will be needed to be reset to zero the next day so you could count the number of steps taken.

All pedometers have a battery which needs to be replaced depending on the life.
Some pedometers need to have the data fed in such as date and time, the weight of the person, the length on ones stride which will be calculated and input fed in.
The extra benefits: Some just give the number of steps taken during the day till one resets it back to zero. Other pedometers count the calories burned during the activity, the distance walked and some even upload the data to a remote computer which will maintain a log book of the progress.
Accuracy: generally all pedometers are accurate. However change of strides such as a sudden increase in pace ( or decrease) , jogging in between or even climbing stairs in between the walk may not be counted by the machine( after all it is a machine) and so the calories counted may not be very accurate in that way.
Get a pedometer that has good back lighting so it could be easy to use both indoors and outdoors and also during either the day or night.
Some pedometers are small, others are big. Go for a size that suits you.
The pedometer must have a sturdy clip to help attach on the waistband or have a strap.
Price is also of major concern.
The recent smartphones have an app which could be downloaded for performing the same function as that of a pedometer.
Before you use the pedometer regularly the following are to be noted:

 

  • Please attach the pedometer on yourself for three days in succession whenever you are awake. The total number of steps covered in 3 days divided by three will give the average steps in a day. This is called the baseline steps. ( This will also give you an idea how many steps you had taken in a day which might be embarrassing)
  • Once you know the baseline steps, set up short term goals such as adding a thousand steps a day, for example, to your baseline number which you do target for a week.
  • Once you have achieved this short term goal, you could set yourself another goal. You could reward yourself and make this interesting.

 

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Love your feet !!

Love your feet !!

Feet are, strangely, the most neglected of all the body parts. There are many who pamper their feet, more ladies than men. The feet are an important part to be checked for while being a diabetic. Generally the problems with the feet can occur whether one has either type 1 or 2 diabetes, whether young or old and in any part of the feet though generally the under surface are affected more than any other part of the feet.
Feet are the parts of the body that keep one mobile, that maintain the balance and stance of a person, help drive us around, help us to swim, pedal a cycle, go on hikes or trekking, the list is endless.
Causes of foot problems while having diabetes mellitus:

foot ulcers

 

Trauma to the foot due to poor or ill fitting footwear, not wearing a footwear,
Foot deformities such as an in growing toe nail caused by improper nail clipping, having flat foot when the arches of foot collapse, having claw toes, having over ridden toes.
Poor blood flow to the feet due to small blocks in the blood vessels
Neuropathy due to diabetes which leads to poor sensation- impaired sensation to temperature changes or pain or touch.
Lack of proper access to proper education.
Living alone.
Poor socioeconomic conditions
Poor control over blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Smoking
Previous amputation or ulcer foot
Poor eye sight

 

What can be done to prevent foot problems?

foot ulcer

DFU- Diabetic foot ulcer

 
Maintain good blood sugar and blood pressure control
Maintain normal lipid levels
Stop smoking
• Regular exercise
Check the feet regularly- check for cracks or fissures on the heels. Check between the toes for any fungal infection.
• While clipping the nails make sure it is cut straight taking care not to take the corners. The corners can be filed.
Do not cut callosities which are thickened pads of skin. Have either a trained podiatrist( who specializes in foot care and pedicure) manage it. You also use a pumice stone after bathing to rub down the thickened skin.
Apply moisturizing creams on the feet and under surface before retiring at night. Take care not to apply moisturizing creams between the toes as they will retain moisture and favor fungal infection. Use the ones containing Aloe Vera or vitamin E.
Use a hand held mirror to check the under surface of the feet.
Use cotton based socks without tight bands. Some socks now come with silicone impregnated gel pads as well.
Use shoes that are one size bigger. Buy the shoes towards the end of the day when the feet will be swollen slightly. There should be enough room for the toes to wriggle comfortably. Wear and also the sole of the footwear for any nails or sharp objects. Pointed shoes are not advisable.
Check the inside of the footwear with the hands for any irregularity or wearing off.
Have the feet checked at least once by a health care provider.

ingrowing toe nail 1

Ingrowing toe nail due to improper cutting of nails

ingrown-toenail 2

 

 

Look at the difference in the left foot

Charcots foot

 

This is a foot disorder that can happen to almost anybody with diabetes. The loss of deep sensation leads to destruction, degeneration and disorganization of the bones and joints of the foot. The foot can be swollen, warm to touch and be red. But, the pulses of the feet will be normal on examination. Once suspected of this, you will be referred to either a foot care team or the orthopedic doctor. Normally, the foot will be immobilized in a cast. This will be removed after a period of time as suggested by the team and protective custom made footwear will be given.

For those who are used to wearing high heel footwear, the pressure while walking is shifted to the forefoot and there will be strain on the Achilles tendon at the back of the foot ( the thickened cord felt behind the ankle)

Regular check up of the feet:
The feet will be checked for color, any cracks, any infection between the toes, any deformities, any callosities, and non healing wounds, any color changes, the skin of the feet, the hair growth and the nails.
Blisters are water filled collections ,corns are thickened skin due to repeated friction, calluses occur usually on the bottom of the feet which are due to thickened pads of skin, and bunions are those out projections seen from the joint of the big toe which is a structural deformity.

Clawing of toes

bunion 2
The feet will be checked for local warmth, the sensation will be checked with a monofilament, the sensation to appreciate hot and cold sensations, vibration sense will be checked. The pulse will be checked for on the feet. The ankle brachial index ( comparing the pressure of the ankle and arm BP are compared to assess blood flow) are checked in high risk feet.

A podoscan can be used to measure the pressure while walking or stepping.

Customized foot wear is often required when there is a problem to the feet which have to be designed by cobblers specialized for this.

There are tests to measure the amount of blood flow to the legs such as an ultrasound Doppler test ( which is non invasive) or an angiogram which is invasive. If blood flow is compromised ,depending on the severity, either medicines or stents or surgery are advised.
Ulcers ( breach of the skin) may heal with medicines or may remain active or in some people may progress rapidly to cause infection. In some cases, an amputation is performed to save the limb or even life. There are many comfortable prostheses available in the market to get over the handicap.

 

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