I truly believe that an active, healthy lifestyle is critical to a happier and more fulfilling life. That’s for everyone. For a diabetic the benefits can be much more immediate and much less philosophical. Even after a short walk you can expect to have a reduction in blood glucose levels with improved stability and insulin sensitivity lasting up to 24 hours. From my own experience I can say that when I was injured and therefore not exercising regularly good control was a much bigger challenge. Looking longer term, people with diabetes are at significantly higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease than the general population. Regular exercise can minimize these risks, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy life longer into your “golden years”. More anecdotal, I know a fair number of long term active diabetics and not one of them has serious complications.
So the real question is: what’s stopping you? Now I understand that if you’re reading this there’s a high likelihood that you’re already active. Sedentary people tend, in my opinion, to avoid blogs with the word “running” in the title unless it’s “runningfromzombies”. Or something. Anyway, in case someone out there has been on the fence I thought I’d put down a few words on getting started.
Step 1: Get off the couch and out the door.
Seriously that’s it. Turn off the television. Put down the iPad. Open the front door. That big bright thing? That’s just the sun. It’s cool, you’ll get used to it. Now start walking. It doesn’t particularly matter where you walk, it’s the walking bit that’s important here. You don’t even need to walk far at first. If to the mailbox and back is all you can manage today that’s great. It’s a start!
Step 2: Do it again. Perhaps longer this time.
There is a subtle theme here. Simple consistency. The best exercise is the exercise you actually do. So if a 10 minute walk around the block is all you’re physically or mentally capable of right now that’s fine, but do it at least three times a week. I mean the zombies are still likely to get you, but it’s baby steps, right?
Step 3: Explore.
I run. I like to run. I also enjoy hiking, climbing, cycling (mountain and road), scuba, and even yoga. The point here is that tedium leads to boredom, and boredom leads to a reversion to old, comfortable habits. Always wanted to try tennis? Go learn! Looking to take up golf? What’s stopping you? (extra points if you ditch the cart and walk 18) Watched the Olympic and want to give Curling a go? Live the dream! (seriously – I’ve done it and the sweeping part is work)
Step 4: Enjoy a healthier you.
One of the amazing things about being fit and healthy is you no longer think “Oh I could never do that.” You begin to realize all of the amazing things you can do. You may also find that you’re getting sick less, that you have more energy, that your lab results are better than ever, and that your overall mood has improved. You too can be one of those annoying people that’s usually in a good mood!
And if you’re already active and healthy? Odds are you know someone that could use a little more “outside time”. Get them out there. Don’t be preachy. Don’t judge. Just show them that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore or a punishment. (I still take issue with coaches in school using running as a punishment – way to instill early bad habits!).