toned body shape
less risk of health problems
more strength and stamina
lower stress levels
Now comes the challenge of figuring out what you should do. Are there certain sports that you should either try or avoid? Before you start anything, talk with your doctor. Your doctor may check your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, A1c, feet, and eyes. Based on your health, some activities may be more appropriate than others. Be sure you are fit to exercise before you begin. As well, be prepared for emergency treatment. Carry glucose tablets in case you have a low blood glucose episode, and know how many and how often to take them.
When setting a goal, do not make your first efforts too difficult. For instance, if you want to start walking, begin with 10 minutes once a day for a week. After a week, rewrite your goal. Maybe now you are going to walk 15 minutes a day for a week. Keep adjusting your goal as needed.
How much activity should you do every day to stay fit? The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. That works out to 21 minutes a day, or 60 minutes three times per week, or many other variations. Try to at least reach this amount of time when you set your goal. Some people can only do 10 minutes of activity at a time because of a limitation. Ten minutes after breakfast, lunch and supper would total 30 minutes a day — just enough!
You may want to try a few sports to see which one suits your interest, budget and time. Once you decide which sport you are going to do, prepare ahead of time. Have a bag ready with your equipment the night before the activity. Include:
To find a sport that interests you, explore different options. Talk to friends, check the library, computer, and newspapers, and visit local recreational centres and fitness stores. If you are new to an activity, start at a beginner level. You can always increase your levels with time and experience. If you have any limitations, talk to the instructor ahead of time to see if the sport is suitable for you.
Consider your budget. Can you afford the activity? How much is the equipment? Are there extra fees, such as tournament costs, that are part of the sport? Some house leagues do not travel – maybe that would suit you better.
Finally, there is the question of time. Can you commit the time to the activity you have chosen? Talk this over with the people who support you. Look at different places you can do an activity. Is there time to do it during lunch breaks? Could you walk while your children are doing their sports? Try to find a sport a short distance away to avoid too much time spent travelling. Add exercise to your normal daily activities. For instance, park your car 10 to 15 minutes away from your workplace, school, or at the far end of the parking lot so that you have the extra walk.
Once you decide on a sport and have the time and date of week set, put it on the calendar. Highlight it! You want it to be visible so that you do not forget your activity. It is more likely to become routine if you have a reminder on the calendar.
Always clock your time. You may think you have walked 20 minutes, but when you clock it you realize it is only 15 minutes. Time may go by faster if you can bring a friend along. Instead of having coffee or tea, take a nice walk and visit. It will benefit both of you. Music also makes time pass more quickly. You can take a device with you or listen while you exercise at home. Choose music that is upbeat and enjoyable.
Think about safety. If you are walking, find well-lit areas. Walk during daylight hours to prevent tripping or falling over bumps in the sidewalk. Try options like mall walking on rainy or bad weather days.
Increased activity can bring benefits like improved blood glucose, more energy, improved sleep, and mood boost, even without weight loss.
So, now you have a plan for your sport and you are ready to go. Will you enjoy it every day? You may or may not. How do you feel after the sport is done? If you find you really do not like your activity, look for another that you do enjoy. Take any new sport slow and work your way up. Hopefully you will find an activity that in time you really enjoy and feel good about doing. Whether you are skating, skiing, dancing, skipping or walking, it takes time and practice to do it well.
Look for ‘surprise’ exercise opportunities. If it snows overnight, shovel the driveway or go tobogganing with the kids as a workout. Look for little extras to add fun to your normal plans. The nice thing about routine exercise is that when chances for extra activity arise, you are more likely to enjoy them because your fitness level has improved. Housecleaning, parking further away, and walking all the aisles in the grocery store also add activity to your day. Since these are all chores that must be done anyway, why not add in exercise?
Once you reach the goal you have set, treat yourself. Perhaps a new T-shirt for the sport, a hug, or a small favourite candy. Everyone is motivated by different things. Reward yourself for your successes, and forget the times you have been less successful. Look ahead at what you plan to do, and think positively about your future activity plans.