Our happiness is predetermined ~ 50% by genes. This leaves us with a huge opportunity to take action to smile, or want to smile, more often. Overall our brain is like a muscle, the more we influence happiness, the more likely or more easily it can be to attain. You see, happiness is part of a chemical process of neurons and dopamine receptors. If we don’t exercise doing things that enlighten our mood, those receptors can decrease with time and age.
Thankfully here we can hit 2 birds with one stone here! Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to improve mood. Not only can we look at activity for fitness, heart health, and weight loss, but overall we can improve our happiness and mental health too.
Therefore, maybe weight loss should move to way wayside, and overall mental and physical health should be capitalized? Not a bad idea and research proves that focusing on health, in general, is better and more productive than focusing on losing weight.
As someone with diabetes, exercise impacts my blood sugar control, but that doesn’t hold me back from doing interval training, yoga and heavy lifting weekly. Also, I asked a few friends from “Females with Type 1 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetic Athletes Group, DMs Supporting DMs,” Facebook communities what their activity looks like, and this is what they had to share:
I have played soccer before and after my diagnosis, and crossfit 5-6 times per week. Crossfit keeps my blood sugar more level than soccer ever did! The most significant differences that I notice are overnight readings. My insulin sensitivity is very manageable as I am more aware working out… When I am not active or in the past when I have not been working out, it was much harder to notice my insulin sensitivities! Being active and staying fit has changed my life incredibly! My diabetes is pure motivation to get to the gym when I can hardly stand to do anything that day! It has really pushed me to have the desire to see within range blood sugar numbers and I know that being active is the only way I will accomplish that. Type 1 diabetes using the Medtronic 530g! Diagnosed for 10 years and 7 months! – Katelyn Partridge
I start every day with a 2-mile walk with my dog. Then after working 8 hours depending on the night I play racquetball, tennis, do Zumba or yoga. In the winter I ski on the weekends. In the spring and summer, I do distance cycling. Exercise has helped me lose weight, maintain decent blood sugar control and it makes me more sensitive to insulin. Besides that it makes me feel good. Omnipod pump and a Dexcom. Type 1, dxed May 1975. – Clare T. Fishman
I’ve been t1 for 24 years and got a Dexcom 2.5 years ago. It really helps with hiking. You can see a drop coming before it happens and eat some glucose to maintain nice flat lines. – Kate Sullivan
I was a competitive dancer most of my youth and started really working out again two years ago. It changed my life and I started to feel strong and empowered again—my insulin needs dropped from 75 units a day to 45 units a day and I’ve been on a pump for 14 years…as I realized I could workout with diabetes as I had a fear that it would hold me back I found a passion in running and have now completed 5ks, 10ks and working towards my first half marathon this spring! I realized when I believe in myself, I can do anything I set my mind to. Diagnosed with Type 1 on st patty’s day 1997. – Amanda Jolene Smith
Grew up racing BMX and mountain bikes nationally, competed in fitness competitions for a few years and now do CrossFit 4-5 times a week and stay active with my kids! Competing and exercising with diabetes can be tricky, but if you watch your patterns closely, with trial and error you can figure it out. Building muscle and staying consistent has been the best for me with managing diabetes! Also, this was crucial for two heathy pregnancies with diabetes too! Type 1 for 25 years since age 14, currently on Medtronic pump and CGM. – Allison Sigler MacKenzie
I make it a point to exercise at the gym at least 3 (but I shoot for 5) days a week, with “active rest days” the rest of the week. Anything more than a gentle walk means I have to take extra insulin, but it’s totally worth it. Besides the benefits to my physical health, I dervive huge mental health benefits, too. When living with a chronic disease, we have to take every opportunity we can to feel good about ourselves, and to feel strong. This is how I keep my head up, and keep going on. I’m looking forward to rocking the NEXT 31+ years, whether they find a cure, or not. I got this! T1 for 31 years (pump/CGM), and active for 2 years… – Dana Coltrinari Burke
I run 5-8 miles almost every day. On days I don’t run, my numbers are all over the place. I also do yoga and stretching almost everyday. The mental health benefits from the endorphin release and clearing of my mind is equally as important in managing this disease. Diagnosed 3.5 years ago, at age 51. I use both the Omnipod and a CGM. – Stacey Boehrer
I mostly run, 3-5 days a week. Running has helped me reduce the amount of insulin I need to take and makes me more fit, which in the long run will add years to my life. I was diagnosed at age 5, 33 years ago. I use an Omnipod pump and Dexcom G5 CGM. – Matt Barnett
“Control diabetes. Don’t let it control you” I had amazing parents who went through training and extreme patience when they first had to give me insulin and figure out the diet. We were an active family already so it was a little easier. Its crucial to have the support of your family and friends especially if newly diagnosed. It’s a complete lifestyle change! For those of us who’ve known nothing else it’s a little easier to transition through each phase. I tried the cgm for a week but due to the way the alarms were set, I went super high and super low due to overcorrections or overeating. For me it’s hard to change what’s been working- low carb meals, lots of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise includes walking the dogs, running, playing with the kids, swimming, tennis, basketball and whatever comes in front of me.Type I diabetic for 32 years- only on the pump for the past 7 years. My A1c has been between 5.7-6.5 for the past 10 years but my goal is to get it back to 6.0 or under. – Joella Davis
The formula for happiness is not the same for all of us, but figuring out what we enjoy is key. Go out and play and make time for personal play. When this is easier said than done, I make a gratitude list on paper or in my head, and quickly realize, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” Or at least overly stressed. 🙂