By: Scott M. King
The heroes featured in this issue have two things in common: They’ve achieved top success in their various fields, and they have diabetes. I’m inspired by these people, who face the same challenges that I do with diabetes. It’s too easy, sometimes, to use diabetes as an excuse not to try. Seeing these individuals reach the top encourages me to do as much as my capabilities allow.
I’ll admit it: Unlike many of the heroes featured in this issue, I’m no jock. But, as Gary Hall Jr. says on page 47, "If I’m able to be the best in the world in swimming, you can certainly go out and play a game of pick-up basketball or go camping for the weekend."
If you don’t exercise, you’re certainly not alone. It’s a national problem. A recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics says that only three out of 10 people are physically active on a regular basis—defined as half an hour of moderate exercise five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week.
Having two children in my house presents plenty of opportunities to exercise. Spencer, 9, and Miranda, 7, drag me out to bounce on the trampoline, to lace up and take off on our roller blades, or to hop on our bicycles.
Taking them to two baseball games a week—each—also keeps me busy. Perhaps I should up my activity level there by pacing nervously when they come up to bat instead of sitting tensely on the bleachers.
I also jog, and I occasionally go for a hike in the hills behind my house with my friend Ted.
Jogging, for me, is a great stress-reliever—and I feel great when it’s over! I just have trouble getting started. But I know that when I feel the stress building in my gut, I can get rid of it by going jogging. As a bonus, my blood-glucose levels are more stable and don’t shoot up as high for two days afterward. My problem is that I sometimes forget to cut back on my long-acting insulin, and I’ll go low the next day (which makes me not want to jog). My wife Nadia keeps an eye on me, though. "How much Lantus are you taking? Don’t forget to cut back!" she’ll say.
I like it when my family and friends encourage me to maintain my health. Plus, I’m not only exercising, I’m getting to spend time with the people I care about.
You don’t have to join a gym to exercise. Be sure to read "There’s No Place Like Home" on page 74 of this issue to get some ideas on exercising at home. Your home is always there, and it’s always open. We’ve also included an article on page 54 called "To Snack or Not to Snack" that might be helpful for you to read if you take insulin or a medication that can cause low blood glucose.
At a recent Weight Watchers meeting, the speaker asked us what we’d do if there were a miracle drug that reduced depression, gave us more energy, helped us sleep better, made our heart and lungs stronger and reduced insulin resistance. We already have that "drug," she said. It’s called "exercise."
"And," someone shouted, "it prevents [type 2] diabetes!"
Even committing to just five minutes of exercise a day is helpful. You might feel good enough to continue past your five minutes. Also, any amount of exercise helps build your stamina. Over time, you’ll find yourself able to keep going longer and longer.
If you’re not getting some form of exercise on a regular basis, this is a good time of year to begin. The weather is great just about everywhere, and there’s plenty to see as the earth continues reawakening from its winter sleep. Grab your partner, your children or a friend and spend some time with somebody you care about while walking, bicycling, skating, dancing, working in the garden—whatever you like to do that gets you moving.
As Gary Hall Jr. said, you don’t have to be a world athlete. You just have to want to take care of yourself. We owe that to our families—and to ourselves.