Diabetes & Exercise Solutions – No Time, Too Expensive, Painful, Boring,

The brain is an excuse machine – give it an inch and it will take a mile. I’ve found this is especially true with exercise, where there always seems to be a darn good reason to skip it. This article is the first of a two-part series on the biggest barriers I’ve encountered when it comes to exercising with diabetes. Below are some of my personal strategies for dealing with (i) time/convenience/cost; (ii) boredom/mental or physical discomfort; and (iii) low motivation. Of course, what I do may not work for everyone. Diabetes is all about personal problem solving, and you have to figure out what works for you! As always, I emphasize that I’m not a healthcare provider – just someone with diabetes that is passionate about exercise, diet, and wellness.

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I consider time spent exercising so boring that it in effect wastes my already severely reduced life expectancy as a diabetic by effectively reducing the time I am alive and can do something useful. So unless I had clear and convincing evidence that the time wasted exercising would increase my life by more time than it costs, I wouldn’t do it. Also, the interruption to other valuable activities exercise costs is another disrupting factor to the organizational structure of the day, so that too should be counted as a cost in the cost-benefit analysis.

Since I can always just adjust the insulin dose to control blood sugar levels the blood sugar reduction from exercise is worthless and disproportionate in time cost to the time occupied by dose adjustment or bolusing.

More consideration should be given to the ‘dis-ease’ of diabetes in terms of the discomfort, dangers, and inconvenience caused by the massive demands on time and energy imposed by its treatment, and insofar as exercise adds to that problem, in my view it just makes the disease worse.

I enjoy excercising. I’m not much for workout equipment and weight lifting but I do enjoy a brisk walk with the dog twice a day. I love to swim laps if I’m on vacation near a pool, and I like to bike ride. It releases endorphins and puts a little spring in your step.

I found the article a bit disappointing as it didn’t really address “pain” at all. I read it expecting to get some information about how to manage actual pain caused by other chronic conditions while exercising. “Discomfort” while exercising is definitely not the same as pain.

The article came across to me as “tips” or “tweaks” for people already engaged in regular exercise. Not as delving into these as major problems that can (and do) truly put huge barriers in the way of exercising regularly.

I wish there was an article like this written with each category done by someone who actually has experience in that category. Pain written by someone living with chronic pain; cost written by someone living with low income; time written by a single parent working two jobs; motivation written by someone who has gone from being completely sedentary to a regular exerciser.


I love yard work,pool,and walking. Plus playing with grandkids. I consider all this exercise. Nancy50

I understand perfectly well about the brain making excuses to not exercise. It’s not the easiest thing for me to do. Exercise is not natural for me to do, but, I force it into my routine and when I see the improved numbers, then I get mega-excited.

I imagine that exercise just for exercise’s sake is boring and wasteful of time. Exercise in the process of doing something enjoyable and productive is pure joy. I live on a farm and care for a bunch of animals, hoisting hay bales twice each day, raking loose hay in the barn, stringing fencing, walking from here to there and sometimes just walking to the farthest pasture just because I hadn’t been there in a while. I find all these activities to be productive and enjoyable. Luckily, they are also exercise and things I like to do. Going to a gym and working a machine indoors? Not so much.

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Oh goodness, I love riding my 7+ miles daily on my exercise bike. I challenge myself daily to ride faster and with more resistance. It makes me feel great to get my pulse as high as I can get it to go and keep it there for longer periods of time.

I always listen to rock music and usually read. Sometimes I write when I am not putting my all into it and then the time flies by.

But I am retired and my time is my own. I am definitely not athletic, but I just love that at 68 I feel great and am able to exercise.


Is it a coincidence that you exercise every day and have an A1C in the 4’s or low 5’s? Nope, that is not a coincidence at all. That’s part of the reason. Good stuff. Keep it up!

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Thanks Eddie, but actually my last A1c was 5.6 which is my highest A1c in about 20 yrs. That WILL NOT happen again.

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Sounds like you know why you got a higher reading. Do you mind sharing?

I want to be like you when I grow up :wink: I am impressed. Now you have me more motivated to ride my bike. Thanks and continued success.

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For 11 yrs I ate 30 carbs a day and had my lowest A1c’s at 4.7 to 5.2. My LDL rose to almost 300 and I ended up with heart stents plus I had migraines and my blood pressure was bottoming out. I think low carbing is great for diabetics, but not if their LDL numbers climb or if their body is not going along with the very low carb diet. I would NEVER ignore LDL numbers again!

Now I eat a very low fat plant diet and feel sooo much better! My A1c is higher though at 5.6. I am hoping that when I get my A1c tested next month that is will be a bit lower. We shall see. If it is 5.6 again, I doubt that I do anything different because I feel so darn good.

Before doing either of these diets, I was a vegetarian while eating fat. I still was able to keep an excellent A1c but I gained weight and didn’t feel as good and was using more insulin. I now feel better than I have in years.

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I wish I had been motivated to be more energetic when I was younger, but it is never too late. :grin:

I gave up exercise routine several month ago, because like any other “plan” or routine it was not working out long term for me. My go-to exercise was inline skating and when I started 25+ years ago, I would skate ½ mile daily and felt great and it certainly helped stabilize BG readings. Within a few days, however, my body got used to the ½ mile routine and to get the same effect, had to then increase to .8 miles. This trend continued until I was up to 20 miles per day M-F and 50 miles on Saturday and Sunday for a total of 200 miles per week. My motivation beyond stabilizing BG was to compete in inline marathons around the world.

Over time I realized that once the body gets used to a certain heart rate for a certain amount of time, in order to maintain BG stability a continual increase in that exercise is required to maintain the same BG stability. Bottom line, is that doing the same exercise day after day, even with rest days is a sure road to failure.

For the past several months, I have found that to eat, dose, and exercise to my CGM meter has worked out the best so far this year. I went on a low carb diet and found that my body will naturally deal with up to 24 carbs per day and will require no medication or exercise at all to stay 100% TIR. (Previously taking 50+ units of insulin/day). If I eat 30 carbs, I can dose I:C 1:3 for the difference or I can go for a 20 minute walk and stay in range. For 60 days, I went the no insulin route but had to temporarily give that up and do a modicum of insulin in the airplane and inland on a recent trip to Asia.

My next goal is to see what is the maximum number of carbs that I can eat in a day with the most variety of foods and alternate between either an aerobic walk or treadmill. On the weekend, if the weather is good, will still hit the rail trail for a 25 mile skate.

The ultimate goal is to be able to eat the highest number of carbs per day, without any oral medication or insulin while eating the most variety of foods. This work in process has not only been very educational, but fun as well and would have never believed that life without insulin was a possible reality had I not been able to do it.

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I’m betting somewhere closer to 50grams of carbs is going to be the upper threshold (all other things being equal if that’s possible).

Let us know what you find :+1:t3:

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I had a terrible cold for several days, fever for 2 days and ate my regular OMAD (lunch) of 24 carbs and just rested in bed. Instead of my normal day high BG after lunch topping out at about 144-145, I went up to 172. Not sure if the illness is what kicked my BG up an extra 27 points or the total lack of exercise or a combination of both.

50 grams of carbs per day would be totally awesome as I don’t see getting up over 30 (all other things being equal)