If you’re not currently doing any kind of physical activity on a regular basis (meaning, most days of the week), now’s a good time to ask yourself these two questions (there are no right or wrong answers here, either):
- What kind of benefits will I get from being physically active?
- What’s stopping me from being physically active?
To answer the first question, think about what’s important to you. Although it might seem strange, some people aren’t motivated by health; that is, even though you know exercise helps lower blood glucose, it’s just not enough to get you up off the couch to go for a walk.
So think about other ways that physical activity can help you. Maybe you want to keep up with your kids or grandkids. Maybe you’re tired of getting winded after bringing groceries into the house or going up and down stairs to do the laundry. Or maybe you want to look better or fit into your clothes.
To answer the second question, think long and hard (and be honest) about some of the barriers that keep you from being active.
Sometimes it’s hard for people to admit to barriers. Barriers to exercise often stem from childhood. For example, let’s say you were overweight as a child and never did particularly well in gym class. Maybe you were chosen last to be on the dodgeball team. Well, even though you’re now an adult, those painful memories might still be with you. Thinking about past experiences can dredge things up that are uncomfortable or things that you’d rather forget. Rest assured that this process is meant to help you A) be more active and B) actually enjoy being more active!
Breaking Down Barriers to Physical Activity
Okay, so back to the paper and pencil. Start writing down some of the “excuses,” er…barriers that you might use to drive past the gym after work or use your treadmill to hang your clothes. Nothing coming to mind? Here are a few popular ones to get you started. And as you write your list, also try to think of a way to “break” that barrier.
Barrier: I’m just too busy to exercise. OK, we know. You’re busier than anyone, what with your job, the kids, the housework…but hey, if the president of the United States can make time to exercise, shouldn’t you be able to? I don’t mean to be glib, but as common as this barrier is, it’s just not going to stick. Anyone can find time to be active.
Solution: Look long and hard at your daily schedule. Where could you fit in 20 or 30 minutes of physical activity? How about getting up 30 minutes earlier in the morning? Going for a walk at lunchtime or after supper? Using a stationary bike while you watch the nightly news? If you use an appointment book or a calendar, schedule an “appointment” to exercise.
Barrier: I’m too tired to be active. This one’s a catch-22. Sure, you’re tired after a long day, but you’re also tired because you don’t do enough activity (sorry, sitting at the computer all day doesn’t count!). The more active you are, the more energy you’ll have.
Solution: If you truly are just too weary after work, aim to do something in the morning or midday, if possible. And remember that you don’t have to run a marathon. Even doing 10 minutes, three times a day counts!
Barrier: Every time I try to be active, I have a low blood glucose reaction. That’s actually part of the beauty of being active—it lowers blood glucose levels. Use this to your advantage: You may be able to lower your HbA1c level, along with your medication dose.
Solution: Talk to your health-care team about safely decreasing your diabetes medication dose. Or, try to exercise after a meal, when you’re less likely to go low. Make sure you always take treatment for lows with you while you exercise, such as glucose tablets or glucose gel.
Barrier: I hate to exercise…I hate being hot and sweaty…I don’t like people looking at me. If joining a fancy health club, wearing Spandex, working out with Generation Xers (or Baby Boomers!), or ending up exhausted or dripping sweat is less than appealing, no problem. There’s something for everybody.
Solution: Think of some activities that you’d like to do (or at least would tolerate doing). Walking, swimming, using an exercise DVD, signing up for ballroom dancing lessons, or using a piece of exercise equipment in the privacy of your own home might be more appealing than joining a health club. And go at your own pace rather than trying to keep up with others.
Any barriers and solutions that you’d like to share?