Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Exercise

The one thing which has had the greatest benefit to me on the diabetes battlefront is exercise. I am amazed and impressed with the results of adding exercise to my lifestyle. Here are some important things I am learning about exercise:

1. The results are immediate. I can drop my blood glucose as much as 60 points after a thirty minute workout. I have measured before and after results on several occasions and post-exercise BG levels are always significantly lower.

2. The results are long lasing. BG levels stay reasonable even two or three days after a workout, provided I don't stray too much in my food choices.

3. It improves many other aspects of my life. I sleep better. I am more alert during the day. I feel more motivated to work. I'm just in a better mood overall.

Of course we've all had it drummed into us how beneficial exercise is for years. The problem is getting started. For someone like me who hates to exercise it is difficult work. I think I've discovered the reason why so many people like me have trouble getting started on an exercise program. We're told by health and fitness professionals that we have to get so many minutes of exercise per day. The numbers seem to vary from expert to expert (30 minutes per day; 150 minutes per week; etc.), but whatever number they give out, they fail to explain that this is an ideal number.

You see, if you tell a person like me that I need to get 30 minutes per day of exercise, then I immediately picture this stopwatch in my head, and begin dreading the drudgery of trying to fill the next 30 minutes with some sort of exercise. This is no way to start an exercise program.

I've tried starting exercise programs like this in the past and they've all failed. Even now, despite seeing the benefits of exercise; despite the feeling it gives me afterwards; I am still reluctant to get started. So, what I do is this: I tell myself that I'm just going to exercise for ten minutes. Generally, after ten minutes, I realize that I'm enjoying myself more, and so I try to go another five minutes. This process continues every few minutes until I finally reach 30 minutes. These days I'm inclined to continue up to forty minutes or more.

Another thing that helps is feedback. I was skeptical about buying a treadmill, but I didn't want any excuses for not walking when it was cold this winter, so I went shopping for one. I found a friend who wanted to sell his. I've had it since November and I can honestly say that it is one of the best purchases I've ever made. And the reason it I like it so much is feedback.

What do I mean by feedback? To understand this, you need to know something about my treadmill. It displays speed, distance, heart rate, incline, and calories burned. This feedback is important to gauge how you are doing, but it serves another purpose in this way: Let's say you've walked for twenty minutes. You look down and see that you've gone nine tenths of a mile. Well, gosh, why stop at twenty minutes when you just have a little ways to go to reach one mile? So you keep going to one mile. At that point, you look down and see that you've burned 127 calories. I'm not sure how accurate the calorie meter is, but nevertheless, if you just stay on a short time longer you can make it 130 calories. So you keep walking until 130 calories pops up. Then you notice, you've been on the treadmill for about 24 minutes. Well, heck, might as well make it an even 25, right? Now add in the factor that you're listening to music while you're walking. So you reach 25 minutes and the current song is only half through. Why not keep going until the song finishes? By the time the song has finished you look down and notice that you've gone 1.42 miles. Gee, if you stay on just a little longer you can make it an even 1.5 miles...

You can see how if you continue this process of response to feedback that what started as a ten or twenty minute workout can easily become a longer thirty or forty minute workout.

I'm going to talk more about exercise in future posts.

2 Comments:

Blogger caramaena said...

Hi,

I just found your blog via google and this post is just like me. I use an exercise bike rather than a treadmill but the flipping between calories, distance and timer is me to a T!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
I am Joey,
Your blog feels like I wrote it.
your numbers are better than mine but I am getting there. To have a support group is one area you did not seem to mention but this blog could suffice for that. It's the Dawn Phenomenon that is giving me the most trouble. Screws up my a1c. I read something about growth hormone release even in adults being the problem??? Don't know for sure about that one. I any case please keep up your blog.The is no question that exercise is the answer to BS control. I have notice that the intensity of the exercise really does not matter. I is just doing something to suck the sugar out of you that makes the huge difference. Thank you for your blog..Excellent.
Joey

4:37 AM  

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