Start your engines

By: Alison Dunn Nov 12, 2010

Everyone – including people with diabetes – needs to get enough exercise. Here’s how to do more of it.

Exercise. According to health experts, it’s the panacea that can cure almost everything that ails you. There’s hardly a condition out there that can’t be helped by simply getting your body to move more. But when you’re living with diabetes and struggling to cope with the day-to-day symptoms, sometimes getting that all-important exercise is much tougher than it seems.

Still, the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends people with diabetes get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise a week. Regular exercise can help Type II diabetics in particular by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin and helping manage blood glucose levels.

Getting enough exercise may be easier than you think – if you do it right. Try some of these tips from the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Break it down

Yes, 150 minutes of exercise a week sounds daunting, but once you break it down it can be quite manageable. Often, that recommendation could simply mean 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.

If you don’t think you can manage that, consider that recent research has shown breaking up exercise into 10-minute chunks several times a day can provide the same health benefits as 30 minutes of continuous exercise. That might mean you park your car 10 minutes farther from the office and take a lunchtime walk with co-workers.

Start slowly

While 150 minutes per week is the recommended amount of exercise, you don’t have to start there. Start slowly, doing 10 minutes or so a day, and work your way up to the full 30 minutes. And be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, particularly if you have been inactive for a while.

Try something new

Hate running? Don’t bother with it! There is no one form of exercise that works for everyone. Instead, try a variety of different activities and choose the ones you like most. You may find you love going to a yoga class or sweating to a workout video at home.

Don’t give up!

People living with diabetes often find they are too tired for regular exercise. But studies have shown that regular exercise will actually help increase your energy levels, not to mention control blood sugar. On the days you don’t feel like doing anything, consider how much better you will feel when you start to move a little more. Tell yourself you’re only going to do five minutes of exercise, and keep stretching it a little until your workout is done. Your body will thank you for it!

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.