Why Walking Will Work Wonders
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to make progress
February 2013 — How many times have we heard that exercise will help those of us who have type 2 diabetes?
How many times have we gone to our primary care physicians to hear the messages about having a more active lifestyle?
We already know that exercise can lower our blood sugar, increase our circulation and help us build strength in our muscles, as well as make our hearts strong. Exercise will help us increase the working capacity of other major organs for optimal functioning as well.
Knowing is half the battle — the remainder is the act of deciphering a plan and sticking to it.
How will we begin this all-important work of moving the body for the good of our overall health and well-being? And where do we start? We are inundated on a daily basis with infomercials, gym advertisements, and images of perfect, super-fit people enticing us to try the latest/greatest tools for working out. Zumba, P90x, Ab Rail, Bow Flex, Thighmaster, and that ridiculous Shake Weight (that looks like it should be relegated to an adult channel) beckons us — and our money — to buy into the promise of becoming the healthy gods and goddesses that are trapped inside of our bodies. Promises. Promises.
Don't get me wrong, I am sure that the aforementioned products may work for some. However, I am speaking for myself, and if I had a dollar for every fitness program I have ever bought into, tried, borrowed, and/or found on exercise TV, I'd be a rich (maybe not-so-fit) woman! I mean, I would be motivated to do them for a while, only to sooner or later lose interest, get discouraged, or lay down my patience when the results promised to me via hype and promotion don't match. This usually leaves me feeling disappointed, hopeless, disenfranchised, and powerless. If I were to make an assessment of myself and publically share it with dLife readers, I would say that the only exercise I like that does not make me feel overwhelmed with learning a routine, or striking a pose, or shaking the hell out of a dumbbell is walking. I absolutely love to walk! However, I have been brain washed to believe that being engaged in some overkill of a workout, climbing a mountain, running a marathon or burning a troth of calories on an elliptical is the only way I can claim a workout well done. I must ditch this thought pattern inspired by fitness demons and just resolve to do what I can — walk.
In order to forgive myself for this destructive thinking, I have had to do a little research and information gathering. In my quest to justify that walking is sufficient, I found out that some doctors and fitness experts say that walking is all you really need! Walking is free, and does not require gym memberships, DVDs, fancy equipment, or some trainer yelling at you at the top of their fit little lungs to benefit you and your health/wellbeing. Walking can be done inside or out, at a mall, your school, or workplace. Walking can be accomplished by marching in place while watching your favorite television show. All walking really requires is your will, a good pair of walking shoes, and a designated safe place to do it! Easy as 1, 2, 3! One foot in front of the other baby! One step at a time! But please make sure you have had sugar levels that are steady before starting a walking regiment and that you have been approved by your doctor to start a program.
It is also noted that those of us living with type 2 diabetes can reap many rewards from walking. Walking can lower blood glucose levels, improve the body's ability to use insulin, reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke, raise good cholesterol levels while simultaneously lowering bad cholesterol levels, manage our stress, and strengthen our muscles and bones.
I enjoy walking to the beat of my own drum. I love getting my friends involved in my walking routine. It gives me time to think out my problems, catch up with my BFFs, and gives me a reason to zone out after a long day at work. I also try to find ways to sneak in a walk by parking farther away from the building, offering to run errands for my colleagues, taking the stairs (up and down), and participating in walk-a-thons, marches, rallies, and fundraisers. (Nothing like walking opportunities that get you stepping for a great cause!) Walking can also give you an opportunity to experience nature, the earth, and the gifts that have been bestowed upon us by a benevolent power that exists beyond us.
So don't let the workout blues get you down. Try taking a brisk walk in the evening after dinner, in the morning when you wake up, or while you are in the midst of a busy day. I try not to look at it as exercise but as a means for me to clear my head. I started walking about one mile a day — now I can walk four miles, at least four times and week, and I feel great! I have benefitted greatly. I now have consistently lower blood sugar readings in the morning (by about 20 points). I have more energy and I feel more in control of my own well-being. It is my hope that you will also realize the same benefits — I hope my sharing will inspire you to take that first step and enjoy the wonders of walking. Our physicians, family, and friends will be glad when they know we have finally found something that is simple, satisfying, and a step in the right direction for better diabetes management.
Got it sugar?
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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