Exercise Can Be Fun
"Every January 1st, I go to the gym, run as hard as I can each day, but always seem to end up quitting after just a few weeks...", "My back hurts, my legs feel heavy and I never lose weight anyway!", "I'm so tired after exercising I don't have the energy to test my blood sugar", "I feel better when I don't exercise", "I just hate it!"
Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. Not many of us find it easy to go out and exercise on a regular basis. Besides, almost everywhere you look, someone has announced a magic cure or instant weight loss program. Why not just buy a pill? I bet I could really lose 20 pounds by using my Exercizer for 5 minutes every day?
Not a chance. There is just no such thing as a magic pill or exercise machine that will replace the effort actually required to remain healthy. The human body was designed to be used. Don't use and you lose it!
LEARNING TO ENJOY EXERCISE
Many people discover, once they start, that exercise isn't so bad after all. Quite possibly, the excuses you've used aren't even relevant. With all the benefits to be gained by exercising regularly, give it a try; you might even like it. So, what's stopping you? Have you had a bad experience in the past? Some people, after making up their mind to begin exercising, overdo it. Exercise does not have to be painful. You don't even need to sweat to benefit. In fact, the Surgeon General, in the most recent report on exercise, states that substantial improvements to health and quality of life can be obtained simply by including moderate amounts of physical activity.
What kind of exercise should I do? There's no single answer to that question. The appropriate level of exercise is determined by a number of factors, including your age, health status, complications of diabetes etc. To be sure, discuss your exercise prescription with the members of your health care team. They will be able to advise you regarding the appropriate frequency, intensity and duration of exercise.
WHY MUST I LOVE IT?
You don't have to love exercise but it is important that you do it. Exercise is helpful to just about everyone, especially people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Here's how. Exercise:
- Lowers glucose levels by increasing absorption of blood sugar by skeletal muscle. The muscle uses the glucose for energy both during and after exercise.
- Delays or even prevents heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of people with diabetes, accounting for 50% of all diabetes-related deaths.
- Reduces blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis (bone wasting disease).
- Keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible and muscles strong.
- Reduces the effects of aging such as loss of muscle mass.
- Contributes to mental well being by increasing endorphin levels in the brain. This helps prevent and treat depression.
- Relieves stress and anxiety.
- Increases energy and endurance.
- Contributes to better sleep.
- Strengthens muscles.
- Improves circulation.
- Improves breathing.
- Counteracts the effects of chocolate (pretty obvious, but what do you expect?)
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT?
So have we all. Here are some strategies for choosing an exercise program that you will stick with:
- Choose an activity that you enjoy. You will be more likely to participate if you look forward to the break in your schedule.
- Cross-train, or participate in a variety of activities. This will help reduce the boredom that often accompanies exercise and help train muscles differently.
- Contract to exercise with a partner. When you are depending on one another for support, exercise doesn't seem so bad.
- Set realistic goals. Work up to your desired time and intensity of exercise gradually.
- Reward yourself. It's nice to feel appreciated, even if it feels like you are the only one doing the appreciating.
- Exercise regularly. This helps it become an important part of your day.
- Commit to a schedule. Design an exercise routine and stick with it.
- Forgive yourself and get on with it. Defaulting to old, non-exercising habits is common so move on and start again.
You don't have to like exercise to get started. You may even hate it. But you'll love how you look and feel as a result of your regular exercise program.