If you have diabetes or are even borderline diabetic, exercise can be very beneficial to keeping your blood sugar levels in the ‘safe zone’, and also lowering your risk of heart disease. Of course, it’s not always so easy to start up a new exercise routine when you’re not used to it. And if you’re like many people just recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be very reluctant to start something new. But the combination of medication, diet, and exercise can go a long way – so consider these tips as a way to get you moving. You’ll be glad that you did!
1. Keep it short. Try exercising at first in small increments, such as 10-minute walks. Just make sure that you do them as part of a schedule, i.e. commit to going for a walk 5 days a week. Then make sure that you stick to this easy schedule for at least 3 weeks. Once you get there, decide if you think you can handle longer walks. This adherence to a simple plan will help make exercise a habit, and once it’s a habit, you’ll start to enjoy the benefits. The increased energy and balanced blood sugar levels will make you feel younger and stronger.
2. Stay active. 10-minute walks only 5 of 7 days a week really isn’t much, so what do you do the rest of the time? Well, try staying active by doing things that don’t feel like exercise, such as spending more time with family, or taking up a hobby like art classes, Tai Chi, or light yoga. Also, consider getting yourself a pedometer, so that you can accurately measure how many steps you take each day. This will help you ensure that you’re getting enough exercise, and can make you feel assured when you do.
3. Call a buddy. Working out with a friend can make all the difference in keeping you motivated. Even better, join a walking group to make sure that there’s always someone there to walk with you. Besides motivation, it’s nice to have someone along so that you don’t get bored!
4. Set some goals. It’s great to be committed to exercise and certainly getting out there will help you shed a few pounds and gain some energy. But add a goal to that equation, and you’ll not only stay motivated, you’ll feel more of a sincere sense of accomplishment. Rather than just saying ‘okay, I’ll get more exercise’, set a goal of something like the above suggested ‘walking for 10 minutes, 5 days a week’. You could also add in ‘lose 20 pounds’ or better yet, how about ‘being able to fit into those clothes I haven’t worn in ten years’?!
5. Reward yourself. Having a reward to give yourself when you’ve accomplished your goal will also help tremendously. Use something other than food so that you don’t sabotage what you’ve attained. Something like a planned vacation, getting a spa treatment, or going out to a movie can all be easy ways to remind yourself that what you’re doing is a good thing. Best of all, take the time when you’re exercising to enjoy what you’re doing – feeling your heart pumping or smelling the fresh air can make attaining a goal as easy as… sugar-free pie?
Writing down your goals and tracking them as you go will help tremendously. Remember that you’re not alone in this fight: every year more and more people in Canada and the U.S. are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to begin a new chapter on life – one with a good diet plan, and a fun, attainable exercise plan as well.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner