Exercise for Diabetics
My husband is my inspiration and mentor for fitness. We’ve been together 16 years, and he knows me (sometimes better than I care to admit!). Mike is like a metronome, getting up everyday and working out first thing, either running or hitting the gym. When he worked at Nike, he ran every day first thing in the morning, and then would run with his office mates at lunch and sometimes at the end of the day he would run another 10-miler. It’s no surprise that he has a 2:18 marathon PR!
(Related Story: Study finds exercisealone makes greater improvement than diet and medicine)
For me, running needs to be multifaceted enjoyment. I emotionally feel good, my body feels good and my physical stamina gets stronger, thus my immune system can handle more stresses. And running has always been good at getting rid of the cobwebs in my mind! I’ve written some great shareposts on my run -- I simply wish I could remember them when I get home! But, at age 42, I’m beginning to look at longevity, not just physical endurance challenges. And in thinking about this it brings to mind the health of everyone, and how diabetes has actually kept me more cognizant of my fitness and overall health.
The fact is that most people who are living with diabetes understand physical health better than the average American! When I was 27, I had a doctor tell me that I should consider walking instead of running because it was better for me. I wasn’t there for an injury or illness related to running -- it was my four-month diabetes follow up! With a stunned expression I listened, and then I started to look at the physical outline of the man speaking. With coffee mug in hand, talking about 500 miles an hour, I guessed third cup, 30 pounds overweight and rattling off facts that suited his need not to exercise that way. I asked all the questions: Why not run? How will walking make my diabetes more manageable? And what about my A1C being 6.4 and I’m a runner? How about the marathon-training program at Joslin Diabetes Center? I just let him ramble, misrepresenting facts about running. After he realized he wasn’t talking to the uneducated, then he saw me coming and I boxed with him on the subject! I ended by saying when he had better idea of his own health and lifestyle then I would welcome his advice!
Exercise is a necessity for our health, whether you have diabetes or not. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about health and our lifestyle. Her comment was “How can I fit in one more thing when my day is busy already?” I do understand the dilemma of how to fit it all in, with obligations to family, job and a social life. But as with any living creature, we must remember this is the only body we have; therefore we can’t take it for granted! Many yogis will say, “The most important temple of worship is your body.”
Without exercise the body will begin to breakdown faster. Health issues crop up more often in the 40-year-old body of someone who has not understood the benefit of exercise, than those who have been exercising for years. And for those who are 40 and haven’t been motivated yet, think of Priscilla Welsh. Priscilla started running at age 35 in order to quit smoking. When Priscilla was 40 she won the New York City Marathon!
The one thing my husband’s life at Nike showed me was that lunch can be eaten at the desk, but not because you work through lunch! His department often took time out to run for an hour at lunch. The Nike campus became a place in motion at noon. The president of Nike was such an avid runner, he built a lighted track around Nike’s entire 174-acre campus to encourage employees to get out and move, and often he could be seen cruising the lighted track in the evening.
Exercise will make anyone feel better! It raises endorphins, making us emotionally feel good. It gets the heart pumping, increasing blood flow, and helps get rid of unwanted materials through sweat. It also helps to regulate all the systems of our body. People living with diabetes, and those who work at taking care of themselves, should share their physical stories, because most of us could teach the rest of the population what it is to be health conscious and constantly working at staying healthy. Recently, I sat in a room with five young adults, all of whom had type 1 diabetes, and thought we all looked the same: healthy, vibrant and working at it to stay that way! It helps in waiting for a cure!
A midday lunch break from the office for a 30-minute walk will stimulate the endorphins, adding both physical and mental energy, and offer a break from the office hum. It gets us into sun and air, even in the city. Just as your office sets goals for the company, set goals for yourself to keep you motivated! If you don’t meet your goal, don’t stress! Let it go, but don’t give up! Pick a target goal like Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s, (JDRF) annual fundraiser called Walk for a Cure. JDRF is an organization dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. American Diabetes Association also has its walk. You can do it both as a personal goal and a way to motivate your office to join you. Many non-profits have walks, and it’s a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle and raise funds for charity. Many companies give incentives to encourage fitness and health for their employees. If not, why not suggest it?
I’ve written before how important balance is to living life to its fullest. I’ve written about healing and the importance of balancing body, mind and spirit to do it. I can’t stress enough to everyone, both with diabetes and without, to find their balance in life. We have but one body to live in, and we need to offer it appropriate food and exercise for survival. Most of us living with diabetes have a better understanding of this than the average American -- let’s share what we know, and instead of feeling like the victim, show them what it looks like to be waiting for a cure!
Now off for my lunchtime run!