Who doesn’t like to have fun? And, what in the world does fun have to do with health and diabetes, you may ask? Actually, a lot of things. We all know that we feel better when we are having fun and there are many scientific studies to verify this. Positive emotion creates the release of endorphins (those feel good chemicals), that just make you feel better and help relieve stress. Stress releases bad chemicals that make you feel worse and creates many kinds of negative effects on your body and health. If you have diabetes, stress also increases your blood sugar and that is not what you want. So what do you do about this situation especially if you have all kinds of “negatives” going on in your life?

One way to kick up your endorphins is to laugh. Not just a dainty little twitter, but a good ole belly laugh. Author, journalist, and editor Norman Cousins wrote an entire book on how frequent doses of laughter helped him get rid of painful conditions. Reader’s Digest has a section called, Laughter is the Best Medicine. Find things that make you laugh; old “I Love Lucy” episodes or “Three Stooges” movies. Go to a large discount department store or mall and just watch the people. That’s bound to create a few laughs. The other very good way to increase your endorphins is to exercise.
When did exercise become a bad word? I’ve been thinking about this and I think I have figured it out. When you were a kid in school, what was your favorite time of day? Recess, of course! You went outside and ran, or jumped rope. You climbed on the jungle gym or played kick-pen or dodge ball or red rover or played on the see-saws or maybe even climbed a tree. What you were really doing was exercising. Then, in 7th grade, recess became Phys. Ed. It was structured and you got a grade for it and it wasn’t cool to like it. It was no longer fun. We need to put “recess” back into our lives.
Thirty minutes of exercise a day helps decrease blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and increases those feel good chemicals, endorphins. Find some kind of exercise that is fun for you. Maybe climbing on a jungle gym is not the best option now, but find something or several things that you will enjoy doing. Taking a nice brisk walk outside is usually a pleasurable option, but have a plan for what you are going to do when it is too hot, or too cold or too rainy. You might want to put on some good music, close the blinds so the neighbors won’t laugh, and dance, dance, dance for 30 min. Various gyms such as the YMCA offer a variety of exercise options. And it’s always more fun if you have a buddy (or buddies) to exercise with. Change it up so you won’t get board, but get out there and move and have fun! As always, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
At the May Diabetes Management meeting at UAB Medical West, we will be focusing on “fun therapy” and looking at the many different ways to include some fun in your life. Put on your comfy clothes and come join us. Even if you think there is no way you can exercise, we will show you that there is a way. This meeting will take place in the Outpatient Physical Therapy building which is near the Emergency Department entrance and just past the parking deck. We will begin at 6 p.m. and should be done by 7 p.m. Come and bring anyone who is interested. There is no charge for these meetings. If you need further information call Sarah Joy Maxwell at 481-7496.