Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity
Being physically active can be a major advantage in managing your diabetes.
So why aren’t you moving? Is it one of our Top 7 Fitness Barriers?
Before we get into to overcoming the barriers standing in the way of physical activity, let’s make one thing clear. This post is not intended to be an admonishment. It’s not written to scold you because you’re not as active as you might like to be as someone living with diabetes.
This post is meant to be a frank and honest discussion of what’s standing in the way of you improving your diabetes health and blood sugar control. Make no mistake about it, beginning an exercise regimen can be a daunting task. Even those who do manage to get started often find sticking with the program is easier said than done.
That being said, as someone living with diabetes, you really don’t have much choice in the matter if you want to live a healthy and complication-free life. Physical activity is a core component of managing diabetes. We hope that by helping you identify some barriers that might be standing in your way, you’ll have a better chance at overcoming them. Good luck.
As always, we remind you that before beginning any physical activity or fitness routine, please consult with your diabetes physician and care team so that they can assess your current fitness level and help you formulate a safe and responsible activity program.
Physical fitness is key to improving blood sugar control and diabetes management. So is maintaining your doctor-prescribed diabetes treatment plan. At Diabeticteststrips.org, we can help with a complete online selection of diabetic supplies by leading manufacturers, including glucose meters and test strips, lancets, lancing devices, continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGM), and variety of diabetic accessories. Save up to 65% off pharmacy prices and enjoy free delivery on every order.
Diabetes and Exercise - Our Top 7 Fitness Barriers
- “I’m worried my blood sugar will drop too low”
While this is an understandable concern, it really doesn’t pose any real danger for the vast majority of people living with diabetes. It’s true that exercise will lower your blood sugar (and that’s a good thing long-term). However, your doctor will most likely recommend easing into a program of light activity that will not dramatically impact blood sugar levels.
Additionally, your fears can be alleviated with just a little simple planning. It’s important to test your blood sugar before and after activity to determine how your body responds to exercise and how that might impact your insulin dosage or other medication needs. You might find a slight blood sugar fluctuation can be remedied by grabbing a quick snack before beginning exercise. You and your doctor will work through how exercise impacts your blood glucose level together and develop a plan accordingly so you can exercise with confidence.
Additionally, the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping glucose tabs or a fast-acting carbohydrate on hand just in case you experience a low while exercising.
Again, for most of us with diabetes, the risks of a severe drop in blood sugar due to physical activity are minimal, as long as we follow our doctor-approved routines. So, there you have it. This excuse is officially debunked.
- “I just don’t have the time”
No one is arguing that you have a full schedule and plenty of busy days. But here’s what you have to remember. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends approximately 30 minutes of activity a day. That’s really not asking for a major time investment. They’re also not asking you to train for a marathon. Moderate activity, such as walking, is a great start and every step counts. Here are a few tips to getting past that “I don’t have 30 minutes” barrier.
– If you don’t think you’re physically up for a full 30, start with 10 minutes.
– Break up your 30 minutes into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions
– Make activity a part of your daily routine. For example, walk or biking to the store; take the dog for a slightly longer walk; hit the treadmill while you watch your favorite sitcom (there’s your half hour right there!)
- “Exercise is boring”
Okay, now you’re reaching for excuses. Maybe jogging isn’t your thing. Try swimming. Maybe walking isn’t for you. Try biking. Maybe you don’t like doing things solo? Okay, play tennis, pickle ball, basketball. Join a yoga or aerobics class. Invite a friend to start an activity routine with you - after all exercise isn’t just good for those of us with diabetes, it’s good for everyone.
If your excuse is that exercise is boring, then don’t look at it as exercise. Look at it as being active. Hiking to hoops, walking to water aerobics, biking to badminton, as long as you’re moving your improving!
Find an activity you genuinely enjoy and stick with it. Or, if you like variety, switch things up each day to keep it interesting. Sure, there will be days when you just don’t feel like doing anything, but they won’t happen as often if you’re doing activities you enjoy.
- “I’ve never exercised. I don’t know how.”
It’s understandable to feel a little out of sorts if you’ve never been active or it’s been quite some time. The good news is there are a lot of easy ways to approach this concern.
– Do you know how to walk or ride a bike? Can you climb stairs? Congratulations, you know how to exercise. Many everyday activities qualify as physical activity, so start with something you know.
– Hire a personal trainer. If you’re able to afford one, a personal trainer can provide the guidance you need to feel more comfortable exercising.
– Join a yoga or fitness class. Rest assured your local studio or gym has plenty of classes geared to beginners. Do you really think you’re the only person looking to start a routine?
- “What’s the point? I don’t have the motivation”
Physical activity will help you better manage blood sugar, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, build muscle, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. When you consider these benefits alone, they are some pretty irrefutable reasons to get started.
Still, sometimes we all need a little extra motivation. So here are a quick seven ways to keep it going:
- Think of how much better you’ll look and feel.
- Think of your family and friends and how much they mean to you.
- Get that family member or friend involved and work out as a team.
- Make a clear plan you can follow every day.
- Set short-term and long-term goals. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach them.
- Track your progress with a fitness app, smart watch or just write it down. When you see calories lost, miles logged, and other milestones, you’ll get a real sense of just how far you’ve come.
- Look at activity as a gradual lifestyle change. It’s tempting to want to see and feel immediate results, but that’s not realistic and an easy way to become discouraged. Give yourself 4-6 weeks to realize benefits. You’ll see them and that’ll keep you motivated too gradually do even better.
- “I’m too self-conscious to exercise in front of people”
Many people living with Type 2 diabetes are overweight and this can understandably make exercising in a group a little uncomfortable, if not intimidating. However, you don’t have to put yourself out there to get started on a fitness routine.
Choose an activity you can do on your own - follow a fitness video on your computer or smart phone at home. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Even daily activities, such as gardening or walking the dog can help burn calories and elevate your heart rate.
- “It’s just too late to start now.”
From both a personal and medical standpoint, there is no such thing as too late when it comes to improving your diabetes health. It doesn’t matter what your current fitness level is, adding regular physical activity to your lifestyle right now will bring tremendous health benefits and help you better manage your diabetes.
Perhaps, the only way to deal with this barrier is to address it head on and point blank. Be honest with yourself. Go ahead and admit that beginning a fitness program won’t be the easiest thing you’ve ever done but refuse to accept the mindset that it’s too late to make a positive change because nothing could be further from the truth.
Remember, as with any addition to your diabetes treatment plan, it’s important to consult your diabetes physician and care team before beginning any physical activity or fitness program. Contact your doctor today. Because the sooner you get started, the better.
We hope you found this post informative, and it inspires you to start your own diabetes fitness routine. If so, you might also like our other posts related to living with diabetes. At Diabeticteststrips.org, we’re committed to keeping you informed and helping you save up to 65% on diabetes supplies from leading manufacturers, including Dexcom, FreeStyle, OneTouch, Easy Comfort and many others.
Shop our huge online selection of test strips, lancing devices, glucose meters, continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM), and other diabetic supplies at www.diabeticteststrips.org. We guarantee fast, free delivery to your home or office on every order.
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