Tag Archives: exercise for diabetics

Diabetes and Exercise!

Oh How I Miss You      Photo courtesy of Kanate
               Oh How I Miss You                                                                                                                                 Photo courtesy of Kanate


Here is another submission to the DSMA Blog Carnival, this time for March.  We were on the subject of exercise recently, discussing what was most difficult, what are preferences were, and so on.  Here is my answer.  Check out more at DSMA Blog Carnival.

The most difficult thing about managing diabetes and exercising for me is that I don’t like exercising in scheduled format but it’s what works for my diabetes management.  Doing the same workout every day at the same time means predictable blood sugars.  However, I really like doing different activities on different days and at different times of the day if I so choose.  Since this doesn’t work best for me blood sugar wise, frustration with swinging glucose eventually wins.

One thing I’ve noticed that works is to lower my lantus insulin (basal rate if you have a pump) and I stay active as much as possible morning to night.  So if I’m sitting in a chair typing as I am now, I am also holding my legs up for a leg workout.  When I get up from here I do 20 jumping jacks.  As I’m cooking in the kitchen I do squats.  And when playing with the kids, I make sure to add in a game of swing the kids around and throw them up in the air into the mix.  This works for major calorie burning but the constant activity every day helps my blood sugars.  The problem with this?  I DON’T want to do it every day so I let it run in phases.  When I feel like going back to couch potato-like status for a week, I up my lantus again and try to stick to an easy exercise schedule.

As far as the type of exercises I prefer…I prefer to play a soccer match but that’s not possible now that I’m a mom and home all day.  But I like variety, so one day I’ll do yoga and the next use the elliptical machine.  I love Latin ballroom dancing (or any kind of dancing for that matter) and do it in the living room without a partner and I will dribble the soccer ball all around the apartment around the kids and their toys about once a week.  Lately I have fallen for the kettle bell.  The kettle bell has been the most challenging work out as of late.  It causes me to break out in a sweat in only a few minutes.  It’s the easiest way I’ve found to sculpt muscles into a different shape.

I stay motivated with every blood sugar test reminding me what I need to do (not that I follow through, but I do better than I used to).  I also stay motivated out of practicality.  I don’t have money for new clothes and the clothes I already own are perfectly good so I really need to stay the size I am.  ACTUALLY…I’ve increased muscle tone by a whole lot and even though I weigh what I weighed when I got pregnant, my hips and waist are two sizes bigger!  (SO unfair)  So I’m wearing a third of the clothes I own and that motivates me pretty well to keep exercising and reshaping my body to what it once was.  Just so I don’t have to go shopping.  In fact, when I get back to the size I was, I will go shopping in my closet! 

I know some people don’t enjoy exercise and I think it’s not that they don’t enjoy it so much as they haven’t found something they love to do or that works for them.  For example, some people don’t like a gym atmosphere but also don’t feel motivated enough to work out alone so maybe they need to try walks with a friend or dance lessons or something different yet still social.  Maybe certain exercises cause physical pain.  It pays to try different things until you find what works.  I know of some people whose only exercise option is swimming and those that do it reap huge rewards!  Have you swam laps lately?  It’s a major workout! 

A series of injuries and major foot pain are what led me to the kettle bell so I didn’t have to stop exercising and luckily so because the kettle bell has given me the strength I need to keep picking up my kids who will soon hit 30 pounds in weight, each.  Plus, since using the kettle bell I’ve been having less wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain.  I have had carpel tunnel and tendonitis since my kids were born almost two years ago and I think carpel tunnel is a muscle imbalance and structural issue and the kettle bell has been rebalancing all those muscles in my arm, making the pain disappear.  The tendonitis which is more an issue of inflammation has been alleviated since getting back better blood sugars caused by exercising.  How can I not love exercise?  Woohoo!

Kettlebell Training for Diabetics?

Available at Target
Available at Target


You have probably heard of this quickly moving trend of kettle bell training which originates in Russia.  They say it fuses strength training and cardio in one.  I heard this and thought, “I’m still not going to swing around a cannon ball”.  But a few weeks ago I was reading the blog of Tim Ferris, author of the very interesting and somewhat insane, #1 NY Times best selling book, The Four Hour Body.  Tim featured a woman who as a mother of two, found herself 100 pounds overweight.  She started doing kettle bell exercises which consisted of two or three really short workouts per week.  She lost those 100 pounds in one year.  I was impressed because she looks sleek and toned all over.  And hey, that’s what I want.

Since I’ve been struggling with major foot pain lately (due to I don’t know yet, will find out soon at the doctor’s), I thought, hey, I only need to stand for this exercise!  I can do that with minimal pain.  It’s walking, running, and moving around that hurts my feet.

So anyway, I’ve spent only two weeks doing the kettle bell swing and a few other kettle bell exercises.  My first work out was 15 minutes and so easy I felt discouraged because “surely this is going to be pointless…”

Yet, the next day I could barely move from muscle soreness.  My calves, my thighs, my rear, my abs, my back, my shoulders, my chest, my arms, everything was sore!  Does that mean a relatively easy workout was working?  

I watched videos online to make sure I had the correct posture and I did (had my husband watch me to make sure). 

After two weeks I’ve lost two pounds.  AND, this is while retaining water due to PMS (which normally brings me up about 3-5 pounds).  My pants are more loose.  And I’ve only done five short workouts.

Could kettle bell training be a good alternative workout for those who only have time for exercise while watching TV or for those who have foot or knee pain and can’t walk/run?

Oh and guess what?  My Lantus went from 20 to 18 units in a 24 hour period and has maintained there.  And instead of one unit of fast acting insulin per 10 carbs it’s working at 1 unit per 15 carbs right now.

I’m going to continue this journey working out with a cannon ball with a handle and I will keep you posted as to my progress. 

(In case you’re wondering I’ve started with a 15 pound kettle bell.)

10 Reasons why we don’t all exercise for diabetes

 We can be stubborn sometimes…


I have written before about how communities are not ideal when it comes to supporting diabetics (Living in a “Diabetic Community?”).  Today, I am going to talk about why diabetics aren’t in better shape. 

10 reasons why we don’t all exercise for our diabetes:

10.  We go most places using a vehicle

9.   We watch too much television

8.  We don’t see physical movement as natural and fun, instead we see it as work

7.  We don’t see exercise as something we have enough time for

6.  We lack discipline

5.  We are used to convenient and fast foods

4.  We have more company if we choose to relax instead of be more active and most of our friends are out of shape

3.  We view running a mile as a big achievement while people in other countries consider that a quick jog into town

2.  We feel hopelessness and think, “what’s the point?”

1.  We are worried that if we try we’ll fail

Now this post sounds just plain whiny unless we strive to remedy the situation…

10.  Let’s try taking the stairs and walking on the sidewalks when possible.

9.  Let’s turn off the TV.  If you can’t do that, throw the set out of the house.  Remove that which is your crutch or crack.  I hardly watch TV now and omygosh!  suddenly I’ve got all these extra hours in the day!  It is awesome.  I wish I would have done this much, much sooner.

8.  Remember the human body was made to move.  It is the most wonderful machine ever created.  Appreciate this as you move throughout the day and feel all your parts working together-even if a little more clumsy than you’d like.  In fact, if your kind of clumsy, know that people will be endeared to you for it.  Maybe it is your trademark?  Point is, it is no excuse not to be active.

7.  Make time for exercise just as you make time for everything else you do.  If you honestly are pressed for time, do full on squats while doing chores and picking up things.  This adds up and does a lot for you by the end of the week.

6.  We could try to write a list of things we want to do-habits we want to create.  Then, slowly work on sticking to each objective.  If you end up sticking with just one new habit you’re a winner.  Discipline takes time but it sure is worth having.

5.  We were never meant to eat fast to serve, processed foods all of the time.  Start taking more time to prepare meals, putting thought into what you might create.  Learn to enjoy the taste of a simple salad or piece of fruit again. 

4.  Be an inspiration for your friends and family.  Start your own routine and invite them to come along for walks, runs, frisbee throwing, whatever.  Be the leader.

3.  If you can’t run a mile and eventually can, yes this is an achievement.  What I mean is don’t view that as the utmost physical fitness feat.  We were made to cover miles a day with our legs if necessary.  Keeping this in mind might help you push your body a bit more.  It helps knowing you were made to do it.  All you have to do is work at it.

2.  Strive each day to be happy with what you’ve got.  Know that getting fit will increase hopefulness and self-esteem and the best thing you can do is just begin.  Treat your body like the special thing it is and your reward will be enormous.

1.  Trying and failing is the only way to move forward.  It is one of the most admirable traits a person can have.  Try, try, try, try, and when you fail, try again.  Eventually you’ll look back on your journey and see that you did it!  From then on you’ll know you can do anything and your entire life will be enriched.  Trust me. 

One last tip:  View exercise as a medication you must take.  Our doctors might prescribe us a pill and because he does so we never miss taking it.  Our doctors also usually tell us to exercise.  So get your daily exercise in.  Doctor’s orders.