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6 Exercise Excuses Busted
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There are important reasons to get off the couch and get some exercise, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity can help you stabilize your blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, boost energy, ease stress, maintain a healthy weight, and better manage complications of type 2 diabetes such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
“I often refer to exercise as free medication when it comes to better diabetes control,” says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, a certified diabetes educator based in Los Angeles and a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). “When you exercise regularly, it can help manage your blood sugar for hours after exercising.”
But knowing the many benefits of exercise doesn’t always make it easier to get off the couch and lace up your sneakers, and it seems there’s always an excuse to escape exercise. Whatever is sabotaging your efforts, here are six exercise excuses busted and tips to make exercise with type 2 diabetes more manageable.
Exercise Excuse #1: “I can’t find time to exercise.”
You don’t have to block out an entire hour to reap the benefits of exercise, says Jessica Crandall, RD, CDE, a Denver-based certified diabetes educator and national media spokesperson for the AND. “Even 10-minute bursts of exercise can help.”
Short but high-intensity workouts showed big benefits in warding off weight gain, according to a study published in the September/October 2013 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. Take the stairs at work or exercise with free weights while you watch TV. Walk, stand, or do squats during down time at work. Schedule workouts like any important meeting or appointment, and set a digital reminder so you won’t forget.
Exercise Excuse #2: “I just can’t find the energy to exercise.”
High blood sugar can lead to fatigue, Zanini says, so it’s understandable if you feel too wiped to work out. But talk yourself into a few minutes of exercise because it can boost energy, Crandall says. “Most of the time, you will want to keep going,” she says. “Keep your exercise shoes in your car or the entryway of your home so all you have to do is slide the shoes on and get moving.”
Exercise Excuse #3: “Exercise is boring.”
“Exercise is only boring if you’re not aligning it with what you like to do,” Crandall says. Find an activity that you enjoy, whether it’s a Zumba class or salsa dancing. If your daily walk gets boring, ask a friend to join you or download a new audio book or music playlist. Also plan ahead to mix up your routine with a fun new exercise, Crandall says. She likes to work in a bosu ball for a stability challenge or grab an exercise ball to work her abdominals.
Exercise Excuse #4: “Exercise makes my blood sugar unstable.”
For this situation, Crandall suggests a pre-workout snack — a combo of carbohydrates and protein — to keep blood sugar stable. Check your blood sugar before exercising, and if you’re planning to exercise for more than 30 minutes, check it every 30 minutes. Ideal blood sugar readings before exercise are 120-180 mg/dL and should be at least 100 mg/dL to continue exercising safely, Zanini says. Keep a carbohydrate snack and glucose tablets with you in case your blood sugar gets low. If your blood sugar is over 240 mg/dL before you start exercising, check for ketones in your urine, and don’t exercise if you have ketones, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Exercise Excuse #5: “It’s too expensive to join a gym.”
There are plenty of ways to be active without spending a lot of money. “I'm a huge fan of online workout videos,” Zanini says. “They’re free and the options are limitless. They can be a great resource for 10-minute yoga routines or even strength training.” Head outside for a daily walk or jog when the weather permits or take a brisk stroll around the nearest indoor shopping mall.
Exercise Excuse #6: “Exercise isn’t comfortable for me.”
If you’re overweight or have limited mobility, talk to your doctor about safe exercises for your current abilities, Zanini says. Try low-impact exercises such as swimming or water aerobics. If you have balance problems due to nerve damage in your feet, stick to chair- or floor-based exercises, or use a wall to help you balance. “No matter what your weight is, movement and physical activity are important. Find your ability and incorporate modifications, if needed.
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