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4 Ways Parents with Diabetes Can Stay Active

Living Well

November 28, 2023

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Photography by Milles Studio/Stocksy United

Photography by Milles Studio/Stocksy United

by CJ Walker

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Medically Reviewed by:

Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C

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by CJ Walker

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C

•••••

•••••

A busy lifestyle doesn’t have to get in the way of staying active while managing diabetes.

As a wife, mom, and business owner, I have a very busy schedule that includes homeschooling, running two small businesses, and taking care of our household.

My life is complicated because I have to manage my diabetes on top of everything else I do every day. This includes eating well-balanced meals, taking my medications on time, making medical appointments, staying relaxed, and being physically active.

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How much physical activity should I get?

Although any amount of exercise is beneficial, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommend adults exercise at least 150 minutes a week.

This is based on the assumption that we participate in physical activity for 30 minutes for 5 days a week, or 50 minutes for 3 days a week.

Having a busy lifestyle can make this goal seem overwhelming. That’s not an uncommon thought. According to research in 2021, more than half of adults with type 2 diabetes had low physical activity levels. Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, this was definitely me.

Thankfully, I have maintained a schedule that allows me to get enough physical activity without disrupting my daily routine.

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Ways to stay active

Living with a chronic illness makes me more aware of how important it is to take care of myself so I can be the best version of myself.

It was very easy to change my diet, take medication regularly, and manage my stress. However, finding time and maintaining a physical activity schedule was more challenging.

If you live with diabetes, physical activity is essential since it helps manage blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of heart disease, and lowers the risk of complications. Regular physical activity helps reduce weight, improve circulation, and strengthen muscles. Plus, physical activity improves mood, reduces stress, and increases energy.

Here are four ways I maintain a routine that involves physical activity no matter how busy I am:

Indoor walking

Every morning, I deliberately get up an hour before my family and walk around my house for 30 minutes.

I pace around an open area in my home, such as a hallway or an empty room. While I occasionally walk outdoors, indoor walking is my preferred exercise method. Walking indoors, I avoid potentially dangerous situations and unsafe weather and traffic conditions.

It helps me meet my daily and weekly physical activity goals when I take this time to exercise.

Cleaning my home

Physical activity can be achieved inexpensively and creatively by cleaning your home. Housework can be just as effective as traditional exercise.

Lifting, carrying, squatting, and reaching overhead can be used in strength training exercises while doing laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning floors.

Household chores can be a safer and more attainable form of physical exercise if you cannot perform middle or high-risk exercises.

Family time

My family schedules a family outing at least once a month, usually involving physical activity. Our family has been to trampoline parks, park trips, and festivals that require a lot of movement. Additionally, we participate in 3K and 5K walks or runs that assist me in reaching my goals.

Since I homeschool my children, I can decide what curriculum to use and teach them. I added physical education and health to my curriculum to help my kids learn how their bodies work and how to care for them.

The unexpected benefit is that I can learn new creative exercise methods, like stretching and planking. The kids and I can also exercise together, motivating and holding me accountable.

Physical activity while I work

I run two small businesses from home, which allows me to adjust my schedule as needed. One of my businesses (an apparel printing shop) requires me to stand in front of machinery. My machines are spread out over two floors.

My work often requires me to walk up and down stairs, depending on the project. I’ve found that standing and walking up and down stairs keeps me active and helps me add some physical activity minutes toward my goal.

The takeaway

Exercising can be challenging when busy, but it’s essential for your health — especially if you manage diabetes.

You can easily include physical activity in your schedule by incorporating short bursts throughout the day. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing bodyweight exercises during your lunch break.

Try to squeeze in a longer workout session a few days a week or even just a brisk walk around the block. When you aren’t working, do some chores around the house or go somewhere that requires a lot of physical activity.

Get your friends and family involved for motivation and creativity. It’s possible to fit physical activity into even the busiest schedules using creativity and dedication.

Make sure you find time to take care of yourself, no matter what happens in your life. It’s worth it to invest in you!

Medically reviewed on November 28, 2023

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About the author

CJ Walker

CJ Walker, a mom of three and wife from Virginia, has been living with type 2 diabetes since 2019. She’s a fervent advocate for chronic illness, especially diabetes. Diabetes stigma, awareness, and prevention are at the forefront of her advocacy efforts, as well as chronic illness discrimination in the workplace, healthcare, and education. In addition to her work with The Genetic Diabetic Blog, she’s been published on Type2Diabetes.com, The Mighty, and Medium.

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