Good Life

People Centre’d on Diabetes: Take small steps toward a more active, healthy life

I love exercise. I’m able to watch it for almost 15 minutes at a stretch now.

You would have to be living under a rock or in a coma for the past 50 years not to have at least noticed that some people in America have a fetish for fitness. And many of us may be put off by this million-dollar industry that has all manner of programs and equipment for you to buy to “get the body you deserve.” Unfortunately, too many of us already have the body we deserve — and that is a body not as healthy as it should be. Our bodies are tangible evidence of how we’ve treated it over the years. Fortunately you don’t have to buy anything to have a healthier body.

Improving health with exercise doesn’t have to mean buying expensive memberships to become a gym rat.

There are plenty of excuses for folks to avoid the steps needed to take charge of their own body health. Let’s face it: Responsibility is hard work. And it is too easy to follow the path of least resistance, not have a long-term vision or to simply default to instant gratification. Being honest about the excuses and recognizing the reality of your journey make for excellent progress in owning your health.

“Real exercise” is very important; increasing heart rates, muscle mass and metabolism can’t be done without some effort. Some of us need a bit more encouragement and incentive to “exercise” — taking smaller steps (pun intended) to move toward a place where we can realistically and safely take on “real exercise.” For us, it’s really about increasing the opportunities you have to be more active. Try starting small.

• Enjoy a walk around the block or just to the nearest intersection and back.

• Park a little farther from the store than you usually do.

• Take the stairs. Try starting with “up one flight, down two” instead of taking the elevator.

• Try a standing desk instead of sitting all day.

• Get some extra movement during commercials. No, that doesn’t mean waddling to the fridge for more snacks.


Try gardening. Perhaps start with a little puttering with some containers.

Because of the damage I have wrought due to complications from diabetes, taking the dogs around the block can be challenging. I’ve broken my right foot multiple times — some I’ve known about, some I discovered only after X-rays. With arthritis and calcium buildup around the various joints, some days are just painful and stressful.

There are low-impact exercise activity routines for just about any fitness level. Walking is a great one. Swimming or even walking in a pool also ranks high on the list. Cycling might be just right for you.

Mindset is the hardest part of getting into a more active lifestyle. One part for me is recognizing that while my lower body may not be strong enough for a lot of different regimens (I have some foot problems from diabetes), that doesn’t mean my upper body can’t do the heavy lifting (pun again intended). Do some research on body exercises that don’t require equipment.

The most important part of commitment is your mindset. I’ve found (and research has shown) that any activity I like doing is one that I will be able to maintain in the long term. I never liked running, so even when I could do it, I usually didn’t. Simply do more of the activities you already enjoy. And increase your commitment level by doing these activities with a friend.

I am my own best health advocate. I do my homework. The point of a healthy lifestyle isn’t simply to live longer, but to enjoy the trip. These are the things I do to take on diabetes.