Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.  

We hear about exercise a lot when it comes to diabetes and daily management. Exercise is a great thing, and although intentions may be good, the reality of a busy life puts exercise pretty low on the priority list. Even if there are a few spare minutes, I can think of a handful of other things that I would rather do than exercise. Put a nice comfy bed, a piece of chocolate cake, or social media in front of me, and the decision to exercise becomes that much harder.

Exercise may not be an enjoyable pastime, but it plays a key role in good diabetes control and management.

Once you do start finding room in your busy schedule for exercise, you will also start feeling the wonderful results. No matter what your motivation is to drive you to exercise, the results are almost always the same. You will feel more alert, have more energy, and have a more positive emotional state.

So even though spending your time exercising may not be your first choice, it is an important choice that can shape your quality of life. With some creative planning, believe it or not, anyone can find the time to squeeze a little exercise into their schedule.

5 suggestions to get you started

1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking up and down stairs can really get your heart rate going, which in turn helps your body pump blood more efficiently to your organs. When everything inside your body works better, you will feel much better on the outside.

2. If you have errands to run or appointments to get to within walking distance, don’t bother taking the car. You will be doing your body and the environment a favor. It's a win-win situation.

3. If you must drive, park at the back of the parking lot—or in a neighboring business’s parking lot—and walk from there. Have an umbrella stashed in your car so you don’t have any excuses!

4. If you have a few minutes to watch TV at the end of the day, try some exercises that help with range of motion and overall strength. This could include lunges, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, planks, leg lifts, arm circles, and more. Live with someone? Ask for some friendly competition to help motivate you.

5. Wake up five minutes earlier than normal. Yep, just five minutes. After you’ve done that for a few days, set your alarm another five minutes back. Inch your way to a half hour. With that extra time, exercise with a deck of cards. Each suit represents a different exercise of your choice (see the options in number four as examples). Perform the number of reps the card shows—face cards are 10. Do what you can in the amount of time you’ve given yourself, and work your way up to completing the whole deck.

If you are like me and dread the guilt that comes when you can’t live up to your own resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle, these sneaky ways to exercise are for you.

Even though I hate exercise, I love the way it improves my outlook on life, my overall health, and especially my diabetes control. So you need to be a little creative when adding exercise into your already busy schedule. You will find that you won’t feel quite as rushed when you do—and you’ll feel more accomplished by moving toward your health goals.

If you are lucky, you might even start enjoying it!

How do you fit exercise into your daily schedule? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.