Welcome back to another episode of the Diabetic and Healthy podcast.
As always I hope everyone is well and thank you for listening.
Today I’m going to be sharing some of my top tips for getting fit with Diabetes. Including how to overcome those initial fears, what you need to take into account and how you can take steps today to help you reach your goals.
It doesn’t matter what age, shape or size you are, whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, you can find a form of exercise that can work for you and it will have benefits for your general health, your Diabetes management, your life and your mental state.
Getting fit doesn’t have to mean joining a gym or a sports club or becoming a weight lifter. It’s about finding something active that you can enjoy and make a commitment to do it regularly.
I am genuinely passionate about fitness and I’ll explain to you why. Not only has getting into fitness and making exercise a priority massively improved my health but I’ve been lucky enough to work with my fitness clients over the years and I’ve seen some incredible transformations brought about by exercise and I don’t just mean physically. The change that regular exercise can make to your wellbeing, your mindset and your confidence is just amazing.
So for anyone that doesn’t know I’m a level 4 qualified personal trainer specialising in working with people with Diabetes and also obesity. The whole reason behind me becoming a personal trainer was, after learning exactly how much exercise had changed my life and improved my Diabetes management, I wanted to be able to help other people to do the same.
I loved doing 1-1’s with my clients and seeing the change in them as they achieved their goals but doing that I could only help 1 person at a time and I just felt that I needed to do something on a larger scale. Which is how Diabetic and Healthy was born!
So before I start talking about exercise let's talk about the biggest reasons people aren’t exercising, especially those with Diabetes.
In my experience the same 3 reasons come up again and again. Lack of time, lack of motivation and fear.
Let’s start with lack of time. I only wish I had a pound for everytime I suggest exercise to someone who is struggling with their weight or their health and they tell me they don’t have time. Trust me, I completely understand, I run a business, I have a toddler to look after and I have Type 1 Diabetes. I know what it’s like to be busy. Unfortunately I can’t give you more hours in the day but I can give you something to think about.
You make time to eat and you make time to sleep, why? Because your life depends on it, you need to do these things. These things are a priority.
If I told you there was something that you could do to improve your key health markers, improve the regulation of your blood sugars and in turn increase your life expectancy, would you not also count that as a priority? Because the thing that can do that is exercise. So if you aren’t already prioritising it, you need to start to.
That leads on quite nicely to lack of motivation. The fact that you know this is something that can increase your life expectancy and improve your quality of life in so many ways should be enough to motivate you but again I know it’s not always that easy. Something I always used to make my clients do is set goals. Don’t just set them in your head but set them, write them down and make sure you tell someone what they are, someone that can hold you accountable.
Really make your goal something that will motivate you. It doesn’t matter what other peoples goals are, this is about you and what matters to you.
It doesn’t mean that your goal has to be a goal weight or a goal size, it can be a hill that you want to get to the top of without feeling out of puff, it can be wanting to be able to run around the garden with your child and be able to keep up, it might be that you want to feel more energized or maybe there’s something you have always wanted to do and you haven’t felt confident enough in yourself to do it, then make that your goal. Take something that means something to you and use that as your motivation.
If you are currently listening to this and thinking well it’s ok for her to say that, she’s lucky, she just one of those athletic types that doesn’t really have to try, let me assure that, that is not the case. Over the years I’ve had similar comments made, about how lucky I am that I’m not overweight, how lucky I am that I can build muscle and how lucky I am that I’m naturally quite slim. To be honest it’s actually quite insulting. Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it. There’s a quote that I love that goes something like, isn’t it funny, the harder I work the luckier I get. It’s so true. Obviously I have Type 1 Diabetes, many people don’t know that I also have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome with one of the main side effects being weight gain and difficulty in losing weight, I also have a condition with both my hips called FAI which is Femoroacetabular Impingement and causes a lot of pain. This got very severe in my right hip and I had to have major surgery on it a few years ago. Unfortunately I still need further surgery on that same hip which will have to be done at some point in the next year or two.
So not only do I have Diabetes to contend with, I also have to stay on top my weight management because of the PCOS and I have to be very adaptive in my workouts due to my hip issues.
So what I’m saying is, I understand, I understand that things aren’t always easy and straight forward but knowing the benefits that I could get from getting fitter and stronger through good nutrition and exercise I just couldn’t allow myself to carry on and not make it a priority, even if there may be obstacles along the way.
So the other reason I mentioned before was fear and again this is something that I have come across a lot with people with Diabetes. A lot of people know that exercise is going to have an impact on their blood sugar levels and even though that is a positive thing in the long term, I know that in the short term this can be quite daunting. So today I’m going to talk about some of the things that you need to take into consideration and why really as long as you are prepared, then there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Let’s start by talking about the effect that exercise has on your blood sugar levels. Many people think that exercise lowers your blood sugar, end of, but that’s actually not the case. There are several things that need to be taken into consideration and one of the main ones is, the type of exercise that you are doing. So is it aerobic or anaerobic. Aerobic exercise basically means with air or with oxygen and anaerobic exercise is without. So any kind of steady state cardio, like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming comes under aerobic exercise and things that involve quick bursts of energy and are performed at maximum effort for a short burst of time are anaerobic, like heavy weight lifting, HIIT workouts or sprints.
So generally aerobic exercise will reduce your blood sugar and this can actually have an effect for up to 72 hours obviously depending on the type and the duration of the exercise you did.
Anaerobic exercise may have the opposite effect and increase your blood sugar. This is due to anaerobic exercise causing the release of certain hormones in the body including cortisol and one of which that I’m sure you will have heard of is lactate. Lactate produced in the liver whilst exercising is then converted into glucose and recycled back to the muscled to be metabolised back into lactate but some of this recycled lactate can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels.
Again the extent of this will depend on the type and duration of the exercise but even if your blood sugars do rise they are likely to the start to fall 1-2 hours after anaerobic exercise.
With this in mind one of the best bits of advice I can give you is to not only check your blood sugars much more frequently around exercise but to keep a record of them. When you first start doing whatever your chosen type of exercise is keep a diary of what your blood sugar was before, during, immediately after and then an hour after exercise and the type of exercise you did and how long you did it for. It can also be useful to keep track of what you ate and injected pre and post workout too.
This is the best way to get an understanding of how your body is responding to the exercise and what adjustments you may need to make next time.
There are no fixed guidelines for correction doses around exercise which is why it’s important that you find out what your body does and how to manage it.
Just back tracking slightly, you do need to ensure that your blood sugar is at a good level before you start to exercise. Too low and you risk having a hypo and too high and your body won’t be able to get the benefits of the exercise and you are risking hyperglycaemia if your blood sugars rise during.
So personally I don’t tend to not workout if my blood sugars are below 6 or above 10.
Before doing any kind of exercise you also need to make sure you are prepared with both your insulin, if you are Type 1, and also suitable hypo treatment just in case.
So, does it take a bit a bit of planning before you embark on your new fitness journey, yes, but is it worth it for the benefits you will get in return, absolutely! As long as you are prepared and take everything into account then there is nothing to be scared about.
If anything, if you are listening to this and thinking about getting fitter and healthier then you should be really excited about your new healthy changes.
Ok so you’ve taken everything into account and you and you want to get fit. I’ve been asked numerous times what the best exercise is for someone with Diabetes, I guess in a way aerobic exercise is from the point that it is probably the easiest to manage your blood sugars around. However if I had gone with that theory then I certainly wouldn’t have achieved the levels of fitness that I have because personally I really hate cardio and it bores me!
So again it has to be a personal choice. If you are trying to force yourself to do a form of exercise that you don’t enjoy then you are unlikely to sustain it. Find something that you enjoy the most, keep your workout and blood sugar diary and go with that. Any physical exercise is beneficial so it doesn’t matter what you choose to do.
So you can do this is one simple thing today to get you started and that is, think about a goal. Think about your goal.
Think about why you want to get fit, think about what it will bring you physically and mentally.
Now write it down. Write down why you are going to do this and what your goal is.
Then share it with someone. That could be a partner, a friend, a family member or maybe you are part of the Diabetic and Healthy FB community and you would like to share your goal there.
That is your first step and it will take you just a few minutes to do.
In future shows I’m going to be giving you lots of help, advice and tips on how to make the most of your workout time, what to do when you are feeling demotivated and how to manage your blood sugars so that you can always get the maximum benefit from your exercise so please do hit subscribe so you don’t miss anything!
As always I really hope you have enjoyed the show and your feedback is always welcome.
Thank you again for listening and until next time have a happy and healthy time.