Regular physical activity is an important part of good diabetes management, but sometimes it is hard to incorporate into your daily routine. We reached out to two healthcare providers who work at diabetes education centres—which support people living with diabetes and their families, and can help with assessments, education and more—for their advice.
Adult Diabetes Centres at Trillium Health Partners (Credit Valley Hospital and the Mississauga Hospital, Mississauga, Ont.)
“People don’t realize that exercise doesn’t have to be this high-intensity 30- to 60-minute-long session. Once they realize that even short 10-minute bouts of exercise throughout the day can have positive impacts on their blood sugar, it makes it that much easier to manage a routine,” says Karma Gajjar, a registered kinesiologist in the diabetes program.
Tip #1: “We encourage people to check their blood sugar before and after exercise, if they are able, so that they can see the difference the exercise has made,” says Gajjar. “It also becomes very motivating to see the direct impact when first starting out. Exercise and activity then become a new tool to help manage blood sugars and other health-related goals.”
Tip #2: “We also encourage people to find an exercise or activity that they enjoy. Going outside for a walk is not always ideal and that’s okay. Sometimes stationary equipment is accessible, so we encourage ways to help the time go by, such as watching T.V., listening to a podcast, talking to a friend on the phone while they also exercise, or reading a book if they use a stationary bike,” says Gajjar. “If they don’t have equipment, there are some great YouTube channels that offer a variety of exercise videos for beginners to either walk at home, or even do a low-impact cardio workout on a chair. The more enjoyable the activity is, the easier it is to stick with it.”
Adopting an active lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to help manage your diabetes and improve your health. For more tips on getting started and staying motivated, read Benefits of Physical Activity.
Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre (Grand Bend, Ont.)
The centre’s diabetes education program offers services to adults living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and it strongly emphasizes the many health benefits of physical activity. The centre runs many different levels of physical activity programs.
“People are pleasantly surprised when they begin their exercise journey with us as we can help to guide them to one of our many fitness classes or to one in the community,” says Patricia Baker, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.
Tip #1: “Pick an activity you enjoy, such as walking, biking, chair exercises or a local exercise class, to help to get you moving. If you choose an activity you enjoy, you are more than likely to do it and continue with it,” says Baker.
Tip #2: “If you are struggling with how to incorporate physical activity into your life and daily routine, brainstorm strategies with your diabetes professional,” says Baker.
Did you know?
Our Info and Referral toll-free and virtual help line can answer your questions, including helping you find a diabetes education centre near you. Call if you are newly diagnosed, are a family member of a loved one with diabetes, a healthcare professional, at risk of developing diabetes, or just have general questions about the condition.
This updated article originally appeared in Diabetes Dialogue.
Sign up & stay connected
Tools & resources
Take charge of your health with tools and resources from Diabetes Canada.Get started About Tools & resources
Benefits of physical activity
Increasing your activity level can lower your blood sugar within an hour.Find out more About Benefits of physical activity
Informative and inspirational stories from people affected by diabetes.Read now About Impact stories