There are some people that absolutely love to exercise. They work it into their life every chance they get.  It is not hard for them to participate in some form of it every day. Occasionally they have problems with low blood glucose levels but they seem to always be prepared with their meters to test their numbers and carry a fast acting carbohydrate to treat a low if necessary.  

tips for motivating you exercising getting fit and healthyOther people have a problem in the exercise department. They have many excuses. Among the top I hear is: “I don’t have the time.”, “I will hurt myself.”, “I am getting to old for it.”,  “I am clumsy.”, “I am tired.”, “I don’t have money for fancy equipment and a trainer.”, “It rained every day for a week and then I lost my motivation.”, “I don’t think it will help me.”, When I was younger I was made fun of in the locker room.”

What can you do if you see yourself in the quotes listed above? In my articles, I usually give you relevant information that has been published in the last few years on the topic at hand. This post is a little different. We will explore an article published in 2005 by David G. Marrero, PhD called “Time to Get Moving: Helping Patients with Diabetes Adopt Exercise as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle”. (1)

Dr. Marrero’s article gives suggestions for exercise motivation based on four principles of behavior change theory. These principles are:
  • A person will be more likely to exercise if the type of exercise is chosen by the person and it is valuable and reinforcing.
  • Exercise is likely to be ongoing if it fits with the person’s lifestyle, beliefs and attitudes.
  • For people with diabetes, exercise needs to be associated with positive outcomes. Education is a must on avoiding negative consequences of exercise and diabetes. 
  • Exercise needs to be reinforced by all of your healthcare team members. (1)
Let’s discuss ways you can get started to use Dr. Marrero’s principles to include exercise in your lifestyle. Some people may want schedule an appointment with their diabetes educator to discuss exercise, others may wish to discuss it with their spouse or a friend. For all, it is a good idea to start thinking about a plan. Go grab a notebook and get started right now!

1.    Think about exercise. In your lifetime has there been a time that you really enjoyed an activity? What was the activity? Did you do it alone or do you need others? Did you train to help get yourself in shape for the exercise? If you never exercised, is there something that you always wanted to try but for whatever reason you stopped yourself from trying it? What is the exercise? Why didn’t you try it? What is your opinion of people that spend time exercising? Is it a good use of time? What benefits do you think people that exercise get? Do you think that exercise is a punishment or can it actually be a healthy reward? Is there anything you can think of that would be a benefit of exercise? What would your healthy rewards be?

2.    What do you think you need to start exercising? For people with diabetes that have not spoken about exercise with their doctor, it is important to get permission to start. Your doctor and healthcare team should be aware of your plans and some people may require a stress test. Other people may need to go to their podiatrist to discuss proper footwear for their exercise and where to go to get the footgear. People with type 1 diabetes may enjoy reading Type 1 Diabetes and Exercise - 8 Important Points.

3.    Why is exercise important to you now? How can your healthcare team help you with exercise? Dr. Marrero suggests talking to your physician about the health benefits, social benefits and psychological benefits of exercising. Heath benefits include better control of your numbers (blood glucose, weight, blood pressure). You can get stronger and maintain bone health. You may have more energy. Social benefits may include becoming a member of a team, walking with a family member or friend, or joining an exercise class at a senior center or community center. Psychological benefits can include stress reduction, boosting self-esteem and it helps many to sleep better. (2) 

4.    How do you think exercise will help you? What benefits are there for you? How can you make sure you exercise safely? Do you have questions on what you should wear? I will give a personal experience that may help you. My exercise for the last five years has been walking. I wear a pedometer and track my steps. I wear proper footgear and in the winter I have warm mittens and two hats. My coat and pants are warm and they allow movement. It really does not matter if I am in old sweat pants and a comfortable coat.  I get my steps and I am safe and comfortable. I am moving and it helps with my lab values. I also like to walk with my husband. It is social and it helps me to sleep. When it rains I take to moving around my home. I have been sighted walking the isles of my favorite stores for steps. I do need to say that my pedometer really helps keep me on track!

Just this week, I started to work with a physical therapist (PT) to start strength training. I want to keep my bones strong and healthy. My doctor wrote a prescription for me and my PT gave me a thorough evaluation to see what my strengths and weaknesses are. I am not a physical therapist, so I value the expertise given. I know the exercises I am to do will help me forever. It is also social and my physical therapist is part of my healthcare team. I will follow-up in two weeks and she will teach me more exercises to work on my individual weaknesses. It is awesome! What did I wear for my session; my old clothes, good sneakers and of course my pedometer.

5.    Do you now know that even healthcare providers may need proper assistance for their health?  For my first week my physical therapist gave me exercises that are not difficult, but will help me. It is safe and slow. I will continue to walk but I have a friend that says everything worthwhile takes practice. I know it needs to be done throughout my life. I want strong bones! What did my physical therapist give me to get started at home? Just two exercise bands, motivation and the proper procedures to get started. Ask your doctor what you need. Should you see a PT? Should you be monitored when you exercise at a center? Is it safe for you to start walking, cycling, playing mini-golf or whatever activity you like? Think about benefits. Think about strength. Think about when in your day you are going to exercise and for how long. Think about a healthy you. 

6.    How are you going to maintain this exercise? Get support from your family and friends. Ask your healthcare provider to keep tabs on you. This happens with some of my patients. They are walkers and they often report daily steps to me. I am interested and really do want to know. I love to reinforce the positive aspects of improving and controlling their health. Ask your healthcare provider if they can do this for you and what is the best way to communicate with them. One of my favorite stories is about a patient that did not walk after eating. One day she had an extra 20 minutes and proper foot gear to take a walk after lunch. She tested her blood glucose before and after she walked. The excitement she had telling me her numbers was great for both of us! She had results and now she is an after lunch walker. I’m so proud of the progress she has made. She now has the motivation to keep going. She was ready to give exercise a try, was doubtful at first but had great results. She will continue to get reinforcement from her daily meter checks as well as her healthcare team.

Have fun and let us know your experiences. We at want only the best for you. Let us know the kinds of exercise you do and what helps to keep you motivated. Hearing other people struggle and overcome difficulty inspires others to get started. Let’s support each other in keeping ourselves healthy!