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Why is Exercising So Hard?

You hear and read it all the time. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. But sometimes that can be easier said than done. Even people without diabetes complain about the difficulty with regular exercise: not enough time in the day to fit a workout in, too tired, too hard, not fun. Add on the extra complications that having diabetes can bring and it can be next to impossible to prioritize a work out.

Why exercise?

In 2016, the American Diabetes Association came out with new guidelines on physical activity for people with diabetes. “The most notable recommendation calls for three or more minutes of light activity, such as walking, leg extensions or overhead arm stretches, every 30 minutes during prolonged sedentary activities for improved blood sugar management, particularly for people with type 2 diabetes.”1 Engaging in sedentary behavior such as watching TV for long periods, sitting at an office desk all day, and other screen time is one of the biggest hurdles our generation deals with. Many people find themselves in front of a screen for most of the day due to work responsibilities, social media, and other entertainment. “Physical movement improves blood sugar management in people who have sedentary jobs and in people who are overweight, obese and who have difficulty maintaining blood sugars in a healthy range.”1

What makes exercising so difficult?

As we read and hear the benefits of increasing physical activity we can all agree that they are something to work towards. But what makes it so difficult to achieve? “According to a study by researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, just 39 percent of adults with diabetes are physically active, compared to 58 percent of adults who don’t have diabetes. As the number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes (such as obesity and hypertension) increase, the amount of physical activity decreases, the study found.”2 This may be due to a number of factors. People with diabetes may already have pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, or peripheral neuropathy that may make exercise more difficult. It may also be that many people with these conditions have always limited their physical activity and may feel that they do not know where to start. Before starting any exercise regimen, please speak with your physician to be sure you are ready. Then, consider small steps such as more frequent breaks in sedentary time.

“On May 6, 2015, the American Diabetes Association hosted its first National Get Fit, Don't Sit Day as part of its Wellness Lives Here SM initiative to promote workplace wellness and healthy living, and to improve organizational well-being. National Get Fit, Don't Sit Day encouraged people to limit their time spent sitting by getting up and moving at least every 90 minutes throughout the work day.”3 Making small changes such as this may be the first great step towards becoming more physically active. Even small changes in physical activity can strengthen muscles and make moving easier and more tolerable.

The goal is to make these firm habits before any diabetes complications arise. Exercise also helps to prevent complications. What changes can you make in your physical activity routine?

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