Many studies have shown that diabetics receive many health benefits from exercise. A lot of those same articles don’t address the challenges diabetics face when they start exercising or exercise on a regular basis.
Here are 4 tips that can be helpful when getting into or improving your exercise routine.
It sounds trite and oversimplified but a huge portion of the battle is initiating your daily exercise sessions. For most of us, once we get started, we will get the workout in. Personally I know that when I am done with a workout, the mental hurdle I may have climbed over to start seems silly. But don’t underestimate starting. If a workout is not a good as you would have hoped, you didn’t get in as many reps or laps, it was cut short, your time wasn’t what you hoped, at least you worked out.
2. Keep a log
Equally the most rewarding and most annoying part of exercising with diabetes is keeping a log. Whether you use an app, a notebook, a calendar, jotting down any information you can right after a workout will always prove invaluable. As a diabetic athlete, knowing what impacts your blood sugar and how it is impacted is the key to successful training. Logs or journals allow you to make small changes to optimize your performance. With no exception, trying to do this simply from memory will never work. It is too easy to forget what exactly happened on the third day of a two week training schedule. Plus, logs will allow you to look back and identify patterns that could easily be missed. Stuff like “the last time my sugar dropped on that route it was at the same hill” or “every time my leg cramped I skipped my pre-run snack”. As challenging as it may be to take those few minutes (probably just seconds) to make a note, it is very, very worth it.
3. Positive people
Even if it is not for every single session, surround yourself with other positive, supportive athletes at every opportunity. Whether it is a training group, a friend, or even signing up for organized events, having other positive athletes around you will inspire you. Also, whenever possible, let the people you surround yourself with know about your diabetes. It is too easy to get low and not be able to articulate what you need. Letting people know up front will allow them to help you when you can’t ask for it. Let your coach know what to do when you are low, let your friend know some of the symptoms that you are low (especially that it might be why you were crabby), and you will be surprised that it will allow you to focus more on achieving your optimal performance. They will help you notice trends, give you accountability to start each session (who wants to let down a friend?), and you will help them see how you overcome your challenge.
4. Beat the mental game
It is surprising simple. When I don’t exercise, I get bummed and regret not working out. When I do workout I feel positive and have a sense of accomplishment that carries me through the day. This isn’t just a matter of meeting the expectations I set for myself it is also due to the chemicals your body releases when you exercise. Manage your expectations and don’t obsess over the perfect body, the best time, winning every event, just plan to exercise regularly. Looking at a calendar with a bunch of entries for exercise sessions is very motivating. On the days that you aren’t able to work out, stop for a second and take note of how you feel . When you are going through the routine of starting your workout session, think back on how that felt and make the choice not to feel that way by starting your workout.
There are a lot of techniques, information, ideas, and strategies to help you workout and exercise with diabetes. The most important is to keep trying and not to give up. Just start that workout session and overtime you will find the tricks and tips that work for you.
One thought on “4 Tips to Help Diabetics Exercise”
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