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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Emotional support and exercise

Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to exercise, especially if you’re living with diabetes. 

There can be lots of reasons why you might be finding it difficult to get active. You might think that moving more will be too hard, or you might be worried about hypos and your blood glucose (sugar) levels.  

There may also be times when you don’t feel like doing much because of the weather, your mood that day or other commitments like work or your family. These feelings are all understandable, and it’s important to remember that you don’t have to deal with your emotions alone.

Our trained advisors are here to help you overcome your barriers to moving more through personalised, one-to-one support over the phone. We know it can be daunting to share your concerns or worries, so here we’ll show you what to expect from the service and explore some of the areas where it may be able to help you.

If you’re currently doing less than 30 minutes of activity a week and feel like you might benefit from chatting to one of our advisors, call 0345 123 2399 or email helpline@diabetes.org.uk to arrange a chat. We’d love to help you on your journey to move more.

Overcoming barriers to exercise

In the video below, Francesca – one of our trained advisors – talks through some common exercise myths. Can you relate to any of these? 

Below, we’ll go through the myths in more detail and work through some common barriers to getting active. We’ll share how our trained advisors can support you and explain how making small changes to the way you think and feel about moving more might help you find the motivation to get active. 

Reimagining ‘exercise’ 

Often, we can think of exercise on a huge scale – for example, walking 10,000 steps a day, going for a 10k run or cycle, or heading to a gym class two to three times a week. But, as Francesca explains in the video, moving more is not limited to that.

Stretching in TV ad breaks, walking to the shops or using the stairs instead of the lift all counts, and it can all make a difference to how you feel. Making sure you celebrate these movements can help you break down emotional barriers to physical activity, because you'll start to change how you think about 'exercise'. 

‘Think of it simply as ‘activity’. You don’t have to join a gym or wear Lycra to do that.’
- Neil Gibson, our Senior Physical Activity Advisor 

We’ve put together a list of inspiration to help you get moving, plus we have lots of free resources for you to use. But if you’re looking for tailored advice about making moving more achievable, in a way that suits your life and your routine, our trained advisors are here to help.

Managing your diabetes

There are so many things to think about when you have diabetes, so you might feel reluctant to add something else, like activity, into the mix. We're here to help you work through those feelings.

Effects on your blood sugar levels

Depending on the type of activity you’re doing, your blood sugars might go up or down. This could lead to a fear of hypos, also known as hypo-anxiety, and may stop you from getting active or trying new activities. 

To help you understand these feelings and feel confident to start to move more, we’ve put together a guide about managing your blood sugar levels before, during and after activity. You might also find it useful to get in touch with our trained advisors and chat through personalised advice to help you overcome this barrier. 

Other health conditions

If you have diabetes, you may also be living with other health conditions that can cause physical barriers to moving more. This may mean you find it difficult or painful to do certain movements, but it’s important to remember that nearly any activity can be adapted to suit your own needs. For example, you might want to try seated stretches instead of standing ones, or try walking in a swimming pool rather than on land so you can avoid putting weight on your joints. 

Living with diabetes 

There may also be days or periods where you find your diabetes is harder to manage, leaving you feeling tired and unmotivated. During these times, don’t be hard on yourself. You could try resting in the morning, and then introducing some movement into your afternoon. However, sometimes you need a break or time to relax, and it’s okay to do that. 

Although there are so many positive benefits to moving more when you have diabetes, it’s important to recognise when you’re feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Our trained advisors can help you spot these signs and give you tips about how to gradually introduce different types of movement into your life. 

Feeling insecure 

Becoming physically active may also bring up insecurities about how you look when moving more or trying a new activity – but try not to let them hold you back. If you’re feeling anxious about getting active in front of other people, try doing simple movements at home first. You might also want to try starting a new activity with a friend or family member, so you feel less alone. 

It’s also important to try not to compare yourself to others. Everyone manages their diabetes differently, so everyone will have individual goals and aims. What matters most is how you’re feeling, so make sure to focus on that. If you’re looking for support in setting your own goals and milestones to aim for, you might find it useful to chat with our trained advisors and work together to create a plan you can follow. 

Call 0345 123 2399 or email helpline@diabetes.org.uk to get in touch today. 

Your free guide to moving more

Not ready to pick up the phone? Check out our free resources for new ways to get active, in a way that suits you and your lifestyle.

Find out more

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