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Finding the incentive to exercise


Easter has now come and gone and with it has come the warmth of spring/summer type weather, which can be an incentive to more exercise. Often during the winter, we can become more reluctant to get outside or go to the gym or do whatever form of physical activity we prefer. If we don't really like doing any form of physical activity, then warmer and longer days can give us the opportunity to at least try.

Of course in reality we need to be physically active all year round and our patients with diabetes know only too well that less exercise and more comfort food does their diabetes no good at all, particularly those with type 2 who may be carrying around some excess weight. In my last blog I mentioned how making cycling safer could help in the fight against weight gain, and helping people to keep fitter.

How many of us feel we do not have time for activities such as physical exercise after we come home from work, but perhaps if we engaged with the idea we would feel better due to the release of the “feel good” factor or “endorphins”. Doing a small amount of regular physical activity could become an asset to us, and give us more energy to cope with daily demands.

Let's encourage our patients by example and use the lighter evenings to get started on some form of physical activity, and if its' outdoors all the better. Let's explore with patients how they might adjust their routines to incorporate such activity without it becoming a chore.

On a slightly different issue, how do we approach our patients when they don't seem to be engaging with what we suggest. It may be a little more time consuming, but if we can help them to explore things they would feel confident to try, and allow them to decide on changes they want to make themselves. They may therefore, take ownership of the idea, rather than feeling they must just “obey” us.

Do we really want our patients to come in to their review appointments fearful that they will be told off for failing in some way, because they haven't done something we may have asked? We all need encouragement, and living with diabetes is no exception; many of the people who are diagnosed with diabetes are overwhelmed by the diagnosis and can struggle with depression making motivation incredibly difficult. Constant nagging to change their diet and to stop eating certain things wears people down.

We can learn from the style of the DESMOND day (which I mentioned last time), and how it works at enabling people to work out for themselves what they can achieve and how they might achieve it. Just this morning, I had a patient come in, who spoke about the patient handbook he had received on such a day, and how he was aware that his Hba1c was starting to slip, and that he might be reaching the point when increasing his level of activity and watching out for certain foods in his diet might not be enough. He had found it so empowering to have this tool for himself, and wanted to maintain his own records to keep himself focussed.

Next time I am hoping to tell you about some new resources from Diabetes UK, to help both us as nurses, and our patients to be better equipped to manage the condition. I hope you'll find time to keep reading these blogs and more importantly let us know any burning issues you'd like to see discussed here.