AskNadia: Exercising to Avoid Diabetes Complications

Dear Nadia:

I know I need to exercise to avoid diabetes complications. I just can’t get motivated to get going. Any tips on how to get started?




Dear Katherine,

People with and without diabetes face the same challenge in staying motivated to exercise regularly. We know the benefits of keeping a regular healthy exercise routine. Diabetes adds another layer to the importance of exercising regularly; weight maintenance and decreasing insulin resistance are just a few benefits.


My advice? Try to find something that fits into your everyday life. This way, it becomes a lifestyle rather than a task you must stay motivated to do.


How Do You Get Started?

First, figure out your story. Why can’t you exercise?

My story played over and over in my head as an old phonograph melody stuck on the same tune, “I am so busy running DiabetesHealth.Com I cannot possibly find time to go to the gym.” After working long hours, “I am too tired to exercise today.” I said this believing that tomorrow was going to be different.


One day I got fed up with myself. My excuses did start sounding like excuses. Once I realized being too busy and tired was my story, I decided to take baby steps to change the way I thought and started looking for simple ways to incorporate exercise into my life.


I went into the shed at home and pulled my son’s bicycle out of storage to ride short distances. Next, I found myself adding a basket to the bike to go shopping. My bicycle now stays parked outside. If I can take my bike to run an errand, I will choose it over driving.


One Habit Builds on Another

Riding my bicycle strengthened my legs and gave me more stamina. I found myself calling my sister and other friends to see if they would like to go on a long bike ride.


Then a good friend I used to work out with regularly gave me a three-month pass to her gym. All of a sudden, I got excited about going to the gym. Not to exercise but to meet my friend and enjoy spending time with her at the gym, catching up on life.


I have another friend who asked me if I wanted to hike. This friend walks three to five miles at a time. When she first asked me to join her, I was concerned I would hold her back. Then I caught myself telling a different story. I fought the “I cannot hike like she does” story and decided to join her, believing if she could do it, so could I. Our walks turned out to be fun. It allowed us to catch up on work, family, and our aspirations.


What Changed Me?

I no longer perceived exercise as taking me away from my responsibilities. Instead, it became a social event to enjoy myself, exercise, and catch up with my good friends.


Family and work will always dominate my day. Carving out time to work out with my friends is now one of my priorities. Plus, I have the added benefits of socializing and maintaining friendships I value.


My tight clothes are looser. I am craving better foods, to eat. My caffeine requirements have decreased to get through the day.


There is a domino effect to getting out of an exercise slump. I now look for friends that have a regular exercise program that I can join. This approach has prevented me from getting bored with my regime because my friend’s routines offer me the variety I need to stay motivated.


Check-in With Your Healthcare Professional 


Your healthcare professional can advise you on whether to get started on a low or moderate exercise program based on your fitness level and medications. Over-exerting yourself can have a double-edged sword, especially for people who take insulin; low blood sugar. 


I am rooting for you to create positive change. Remember, it is OK to keep starting over with a reset button. Just don’t give up on yourself.


 You may also be interested in reading this article on–  How Diet and Exercise Helped one Woman Drop Her A1C Significantly



Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia Al-Samarrie is a diabetes pioneer in patient advocacy. She provides the missing link that helps people manage their fluctuating blood sugars to lead a long healthy, happy life.


You can say diabetes is personal to her. She comes from four generations of type 2 diabetes, and her former partner of 20 years is a type 1.  


“No one should lose a loved one to diabetes. I have spent three decades debunking diabetes misinformation so people with diabetes can lead a healthy, happy long life,” says Nadia Al-Samarrie


Nadia has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, former medical supply business, and her current website have been cited, recognized, and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, Ann Lander’s advice column, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News,, Brand WeekDrug Topics, and many other media outlets.


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