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  • Writer's pictureSheri Colberg, PhD

Physical Activity Is Not Controversial

Physical activity is a challenging thing for everyone to undertake regularly, and it’s also a hard topic for me to write about year after year. Why? It’s because almost everyone can agree that being active is good for your body, mind, and soul. You may have physical limitations that cross some of your potential exercise choices off your list, but everyone can find something that they can do. Some people get more out of exercise than others, but its side effects are helpful, not harmful. It’s not controversial.

Another reason it’s hard to keep writing about is because it doesn’t change much. Exercise fads come and go, but they’re all essentially some variation of intensity, duration, timing, type, and location. Pilates? Sure, but past tense. Jazzercise? Same. Home-based activities, including body-weight exercises, were forced on many people during the COVID-19 lockdowns. High-intensity interval training and cross-training? More popular currently but with so many variations to choose from that it’s not a one-size-fits-all topic.

This year, low-impact workouts are a newer trend as more people are focusing on holistic health and wellbeing. The truth is that almost any activity has its own set of specific benefits, and I usually recommend almost all of them (and doing a variety).

Over the years I have also noticed that people tend to fixate more on their dietary patterns than on exercising. Why? It’s probably because we all have to eat regularly to stay alive, but you can go for years without being active and it doesn’t kill you—at least not right away. All the diabetes and exercise books I have written over the years absolutely had to include diet because you simply can’t manage your blood glucose effectively without considering what you eat and drink and not just your activities.

Being active also takes more effort than choosing what to eat, preparing or buying it, or just having it delivered to your door ready to consume. Exercising can feel painful and unpleasant, especially when you’re out of shape or live a sedentary lifestyle.

Most people who make a New Year’s resolution to be more active drop out of their new program within 6 months, either from feeling demotivated or getting injured. Injuries—both acute and overuse—tend to happen when you ramp up your exercise volume too quickly or set your intensity too high. And it’s not that fun, so people just stop doing it. Or they go on vacation and get out of their exercise routine or get sick for a while and have trouble starting back up. Or they perceive that it takes too much time and really have a limited vision of what qualifies as physical activity. Excuses abound as to why people aren’t active.

At this point, I think I have written an article about almost every aspect of physical activity and exercise, particularly when related to the topics of diabetes, lifestyle, and health management. I’d love to hear from you all what topics you’d like to read more about. Let me know, and I’ll research them and pass along the information in my next blog!

Happy National Diabetes Awareness Month! Please spread the word about how we can all live healthier lives while we’re blessed to be on this earth.

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