Top 10 Reasons to Become More Active
Here are 10 great benefits of becoming more physically active:
- Better blood sugar control
- Help in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
- Prevention of bone and muscle loss
- Prevention or delay of diabetes complications
- Greater flexibility
- Improved endurance
- Increased strength
- Feeling more comfortable in your body
- Reduced stress
- Greater enjoyment of life
You can probably think of even more benefits, like looking better and being more fit. Just think of what will motivate you to get on your feet and become more active. Your friends, family and caregivers will support and advise you, but you are in charge. If you’re thinking, “Wow, I want those benefits — I want to get started,” that’s great. Desire and enthusiasm make a great “launching platform” for your program. First, consult with your doctor and diabetes health care team. Ask them to look over your physical activity plan. Your health care team can help you reach your health goals safely. This is especially important if you haven’t been active lately. The first week of your physical activity plan is devoted to establishing your baseline. Continue with your usual activities for this week. Next, set SMART goals to gradually increase the number of soft steps and hard steps you take. Later, as you reach those goals, you can add other kinds of physical activity if you want.
Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?” “Have I set the right goals for me?” “How long should I take to reach these goals?” “How will I know when I’ve reached my goals?”.
Experts say that the best goals are SMART goals. (Also see this week’s Well-being article on goal setting.) They are Specific,Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Here are some examples:
Specific: “Each week I will increase the number of steps I take each day by 250” is more specific than “I will increase the amount of time I spend in everyday activities.”
Measurable: “I will increase my daily physical activity by walking an extra 30 minutes a day” is a measurable goal. “I will increase my daily physical activity” is not.
Attainable and Realistic: “I will increase my physical activity by 30 minutes a day by walking at lunch and walking my dog as soon as I get home from work” is a realistic goal. “I’ll go to the gym at 6:30 every morning before I go to work and walk the track for 30 minutes, then do sit-ups, then ...” is probably not realistic, at least at the start.
Time-bound: “I will add five minutes of walking time each week for four weeks so that I will be walking 30 minutes a day by the end of the month.” That’s a specific, measurable, attainable and realistic, time-bound goal. That’s SMART!