We already know that exercise is important for our physical wellbeing, such as lowering blood glucose levels, improving insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health. But exercise can also benefit our mental and social health. Social health is defined as our ability to interact and form meaningful relationships with others. Social exercise is then activity with interaction carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. Humans are naturally social beings, and we rely on cooperation to survive and most importantly, thrive.
Enhancing exercise with social connections has many additional benefits to physical activity itself. Exercising in groups can be more motivating than sweating it out solo. Having someone else challenge themselves side by side to you in an encouraging experience and something even more encouraging is having each other push one another to your personal bests. Having an exercise partner or a team keeps you disciplined and holds your accountable to attend and put in the effort towards fitness. Participating in a group exercise class, team, or having a few friends in the mix means that when you miss that training session, someone is there to make sure you to stick to your regime and push you to reach your goals.
Another benefit if that you are more likely to find like-minded individuals and have the chance to form new friendships and join a community. You don’t have to just join a sporting club or team to find these opportunities, the diabetes community have numerous Facebook groups and other online communities that catch up in order to motivate one another and provide social supports. One place to start may be looking at Diabetes Victoria’s website list of peer support groups below. Search for a group exercise class that interest you at your local gym or community center
Join a sporting community; This could range from athletic clubs all the way to community lawn bowls.
Put yourself out there and try something new! What about that dance class, yoga class, martial arts that you’ve always been meaning to try? The time is now.
Find a friend! Ask around for your peers to join and support you in your new journey and chances are someone else has been considering challenging themselves towards the same goals.
Work towards a fundraising event: join an existing team for an event such as a fun run or create your own! Who knows, you may even be able to provide your own broader support the diabetes community!
Our Top 3 Exercise Tips
Focus on what you can gain through physical activity, instead of what you are losing. In this case you are gaining company, friendship, and community in the process.
Sometimes you find motivation and sometimes motivation finds you, the trick is to get started! Even if that is from your peers around you to find that starting line with.
Involve your healthcare team. If you are unsure where to start when it comes to an exercise program, you may consider seeing an exercise physiologist! Exercise physiologist’s university qualified allied health professionals equipped with the knowledge and skills and competencies to design, deliver and evaluate safe and effective exercises for people with chronic medical conditions, injuries or disabilities. They are well placed to help you as part of your diabetes care team.