If you’re like me, when you were diagnosed you were overweight. So exercise wasn’t something you liked to do: it’s boring, it takes time away from other more interesting activities, and it’s hard work. It’s still not something I like to do. I’m not a beast like my wife who likes her HIIT, weights, and other cardio.
With additional weight, exercise takes more effort, and it’s very easy to give up. Unfortunately, you can’t. With diabetes, exercise turns into a matter of life or death (or at least comfortable life or misery). So you have to do it, and you have to make time for it.
When I started, I did 2 kinds of exercise: walking and yoga.
Walking had the advantage that it wasn’t too strenuous (at a reasonable pace) and you can do other things at the same time: read the news on your phone, listen to a podcast or an audiobook, etc. So it can be made less boring. And believe it or not, simply walking as you’d normally do will reduce greatly your glycemia after a meal. Just aim for the speed where you start sweating, whatever that is, and keep at it. To make things easier and not be dependent on the weather, I walked in our downstairs bedroom along the furniture (concrete floor).
At first, my target was 5,000 steps per day. It’s not an ambitious target, but part of the process is to have attainable aims so that you’re not depressed by how hard they are to reach. And it was hard to reach. Some days I failed. Over time, I increased to 6,000, then 8,000, then 10,000, and walking became running gently.
Yoga is also good because it’s static and you don’t need much room. You can do it in your bedroom or anywhere in the house as long as you can put a mat on the floor (I got an extra large one to have plenty of room). You can even to it at work in an unused meeting room if you have a nice employer. If you do it right, you’ll be sweaty after a 15 minutes session and your heartbeat will be elevated. You can’t really do anything else at the same time, at least because you need to listen to what to do, but it tends to keep your mind busy enough that you don’t feel bored to death. With time, you can switch to more energetic yoga and longer sessions. The aim once again is to stay in the sweaty zone. No more.
One thing to remember is that you’re not in competition with anyone. It doesn’t matter if you see holier than thou people on Instagram or Facebook that show you the crazy exercise they do. They’re not you. Set targets and a programme that work for you and you’ll get there in your own time.