Being active is good for all of us but is especially important for people with diabetes. Physical activity, combined with healthy eating and any insulin or diabetes medication that you might be taking, will help you to manage your diabetes and prevent long-term diabetes complications.
Being more physically active often conjures up images of gym memberships, long distance runs and aerobics in a leotard, yet this need not be the case. The great news is that you can become more active by making small changes to your lifestyle. It's important to find something that is enjoyable and achievable for you. Pick 'n' mix from the list below:
Walking – there are lots of ways to include more walking in your everyday life.
Instead of meeting friends or family for a coffee why not suggest a walk or a trip to the shops? Avoid the traffic and leave the car at home for small trips. Get off the bus or train one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. Park your car in the furthest spot in the car park. Instead of sitting at your desk in your lunch break go out and take a walk. Offer to take a friend's dog for a walk. Use the stairs instead of taking the lift.
Dancing – is becoming a more popular way to keep active and can be a great way to meet people. Why not try salsa, ceroc, belly dancing, Bhangra or even Bollywood dancing?
Swimming – is a great way to relax but if you want more fun water aerobics might just be up your street.
Household jobs –
Get fit while sprucing up your garden. Boogie while you're hoovering. Doing DIY leads to health as well as home improvement.
Golf – walking briskly between 18 holes can really notch up some physical activity minutes and help you forget everyday stresses.
Join in with the kids – enjoy some fun with the children and join in with their activities, such as kicking a ball around the park – or what about rollerblading?
Bowling – walking the green or knocking down pins.
Cycling – a great way to explore the countryside.
Diabetes UK looks at healthy eating and weight managementEveryone is recommended to follow a healthy lifestyle and managing your weight well is particularly important if you have diabetes.
Calorie controlled plan
In addition to being more active and eating a healthy or balanced diet, it is possible to follow a plan to structure your intake around the number of calories you will need to lose weight. The same principles of healthy eating apply but it can be helpful for those people that like to have a structured dietary plan.
The recommended guideline daily amounts of calories for an 'average' female and 'average' male wanting to lose weight are below:
Men: 1800 calories per day
Women: 1500 calories per day
In order to lose weight at this rate the calories you eat and drink need to be 500 to 600 calories less than what you burn. The recommended guideline daily amounts for weight loss are based on the individual doing low amounts of activity.
These recommendations are a good starting point; however over time you will need to adapt them to your own weight and activity levels with the support of your registered dietitian. Factors such as activity, size of body, sex and age will make a difference to your individual needs.
To make sure your diet is balanced it may be helpful to work out the number of servings you can have from each food group each day. Below is an example of a 1500 and 1800 calorie meal plan.
Being diagnosed and living with diabetes can affect people in very different ways. While some may find coping with diabetes has very little impact on day-to-day life, others may find that it has turned their lives upside down. Finding diabetes difficult to cope with does not mean that you are doing something wrong. Many people with diabetes who we speak to feel that at some point in their lives, their diabetes causes them to feel like they are not coping. Many feel alone.
The physical impact of diabetes is well reported but the emotional impact is still not always recognised. Diabetes can have an emotional impact, especially around diagnosis, starting insulin, and on developing complications. Many people find their own personal way to deal with these feelings, but for some they continue to struggle to come to terms with how their diabetes makes them feel. For some people with diabetes these feelings can develop into depression. Although people with diabetes have a higher chance of showing signs of depression, not all people with diabetes who are finding it challenging develop depression.
In developing this area of the website, Diabetes UK worked together with people who have diabetes, listening to the feelings and emotions they have experienced, how they cope, what effect it has on their everyday lives and where they go for help. Diabetes and depression are closely related and this section aims to help you understand and cope with them better.
Almost everybody is aware of the dangerous link that smoking has with diseases such as cancer, but are you conscious of its connection with diabetes? Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances. Everyone risks damaging their health through smoking a cigarette, pipe or cigar, but for people with diabetes the risk may be even greater. If you have diabetes you already have an increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack, stroke or circulatory problems in the legs. Combine this with smoking (which can also double your risk of complications) and you make the chances of developing these diseases even higher.
What Smoking Does to a Diabetic:
When you have diabetes can make it more likely that you will develop neuropathy (nerve damage), nephropathy (kidney damage) and retinopathy (eye damage).
Decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues of the body, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Increases your LDL (low density 'bad' lipids) cholesterol level and lowers HDL (high density 'good' lipoproteins). This can make blood cells stick together, which can attract cholesterol and fats to stick to the artery walls making it more difficult for blood to circulate. This can damage and constrict (narrow) the blood vessels of the body (known as atherosclerosis) or cause a clot to form and possibly break away to travel round the body leading to a heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease or worsening of foot and leg ulcers.
Increases your blood pressure by releasing adrenaline which causes blood vessels to constrict and the heart to beat faster.
Raises blood glucose levels. This is probably due to the nicotine and other products involved in smoking which may cause insulin resistance (whereby insulin doesn't work properly) and stimulate stress hormones that can increase glucose levels..
So, like maintaining good blood glucose control, eating well, taking regular exercise and keeping to a healthy weight, giving up smoking is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your future health.