The diabetes healthcare team has recommended a daily treatment that could lead to improved energy, better sleep, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced depression, improved weight management, and improved blood glucose levels…yet your loved one seems unable to stick with it. That’s the frustration for diabetes caregivers whose loved ones refuse to exercise. We hope this article show how to help your loved one stick to an exercise plan.
Recognize that nagging won’t get you anywhere. Your loved one has to be the one who decides to engage in physical activity. Provide support and encouragement. Understand possible barriers, and seek out strategies to overcome them.
Physical Activity Barriers
- Discomfort. If physical activity causes bodily pain or is uncomfortable due to weather conditions, it will eventually be dropped
- Boredom. If an exercise routine isn’t enjoyable, it will eventually be dropped.
- Inconvenience. If an exercise location like a gym is awkward or time-consuming to reach, it will eventually be dropped.
- Negative Thinking. If your loved one’s head is full of negative thoughts like “I’ll never do this”, it won’t happen.
- Lack of Awareness. If your loved one doesn’t believe that physical activity will bring real benefits, it will eventually be dropped.
- Discomfort is an important barrier to get out of the way, because no one wants to do things that hurt. If exercise causes pain, talk to a member of the diabetes healthcare team to check there are no physical barriers. A different form of exercise or less intense schedule may be recommended. If weather conditions make outdoor activity uncomfortable, move indoors. Suggest a brisk walk around a shopping mall before the crowds arrive in the morning or a couple of walks around a box outlet superstore. Or build in a 20-minute indoor dance session with the radio.
- If physical activity is associated with pleasure, it’s much easier to continue. Does your loved one enjoy visiting a local coffee shop? Build in a walk there every day. Got exercise equipment at home? Suggest viewing a favourite TV program during exercising - and only at that time. Exercise will become a time to look forward to.
- For some people, physical activity is more fun with buddies. Look into walking groups or social activities like rowing clubs, bird-watching, tennis clubs, bowling or dance lessons. If an exercise location is too far away, your loved one isn’t likely to continue. Check out exercise options close to home or the workplace. Your diabetes healthcare team may have recommendations.
- Encourage your loved one to start with realistic goals. It’s tempting to think negatively about a 5k walk as an immediate goal. But an initial goal of a 20-minute walk three times a week to get the paper might seem much more achievable and help to banish negative thoughts.
- The fastest way to believe in the benefits of physical activity is to see results with your own eyes. Encourage your loved one to check blood glucose levels before and after physical activity. There is likely to be a considerable improvement. If there isn’t, talk to a member of your healthcare team for possible reasons.