Diabetes Forecast

Getting Beyond the Fear of Exercising

By Sara Sklaroff, Editorial Director ,

Spoiler alert: this month's stories about exercise come down squarely in favor of it. OK, so that's not much of a surprise, although the extent to which physical activity affects diabetes continues to amaze me. As someone who would much rather spend time with a good novel than hang out at a gym, I find that focusing on the stellar blood glucose numbers that I get from working out is a major motivator to get up and go.

And yet why is it so hard for many of us to actually do the exercise, even when we know how good it is for our health? There are a number of reasons, but one that I think gets overlooked is how fear can be a major obstacle, particularly for people with diabetes.

One of the scariest things about having diabetes is low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. That moment when you realize you are in the free fall of a low can be terrifying, something the list of symptoms (shakiness, disorientation, sweating, etc.) doesn't quite capture.

And, yes, physical activity can sometimes send you low, especially if you take insulin or certain oral medications. But that doesn't mean you should avoid exercise. A better plan is to test often and keep track of your results. Over time, you will see patterns that can help you exercise safely. Another good tactic: pockets! They're a great place for a roll of glucose tabs.

There's another kind of fear that gets short shrift: The fear of what's new. If you've never really done much exercise, never felt comfortable around people who do, or maybe just fallen way out of practice, it can be intimidating to consider joining a gym, or a team, or even shopping for workout gear. If this is your issue, then you may need to find an exercise comfort zone. Maybe this means finding a walking buddy, or starting out with exercises you can do in your home.

Whatever the plan, there's no better time to start than now. None of us can afford not to.



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