How to Stay Motivated to Exercise With Type 1

It’s all too easy to make excuses when it comes to exercising. ‘My gym gear isn’t clean,’ ‘I don’t have time,’ or ‘I’ve just showered.’ Give this lack of motivation diabetes and these excuses become dangerously convincing. ‘I had a hypo last night so now I’m lacking in sleep,’ ‘I’m afraid of having a hypo and going into a coma afterwards,’ ‘my sugar levels have been high all morning and my body is exhausted.’ Yes, they’re more legitimate obstacles than a smelly sports bra, but they’re still excuses. These are my top 5 tips for a bit of motivation when you really just cannot be bothered.

Get the Right Gym Gear

For far too long I went for runs wearing fanny packs to carry my glucose tablets and monitor. This not only made me look like I was sprinting to a music festival, but very annoyingly bounced up and down, hitting my legs as I ran. Last week I tried the Hyper Hypo Sports Bra and it has literally changed my running life. It’s a sports bra which has a pocket in the front. This pocket is designed to fit an insulin pump, but also fits my glucose meter, finger pricker, test strips and glucose tablets- without being inconvenient?! For any non-diabetics, it also fits phones. It’s, flattering, comfortable and has such a pretty design that matches any leggings! It looks as though I have been paid to say this but I haven’t, I’m just that impressed.

Secondly, I would truly recommend investing in good quality gym gear that allow you to feel confident. Yes, Primark’s alternatives are a fraction of the price but a good pair of gym leggings could last you forever. It took me a while to fork out for a pair of GymShark one’s, but I have zero regrets. They don’t budge during any sort of workout and are the most flattering by a long shot!

Make Your Playlists Specific

I don’t just have a ‘gym playlist’. For my runs, I have a specific playlist with upbeat songs that match my running pace. When my face begins to get red and patchy and I’m about to give up, I put on ‘Opus’ by Eric Strydz. This song really helps me stay going for those last ten minutes (or sometimes the only ten minutes) of the run. For weight lifting I listen to songs that make me feel kind of bad-ass. I cringed typing that but I don’t really know how else to put it. Then, on those days that I’m slouchy and simply not feeling it, I have an energising playlist, consisting of pop songs and cheesy throwbacks that quite honestly, I would be mortified if anyone knew I had on my Spotify.

Then there’s the days that music just doesn’t cut it. On these days I listen to podcasts. Podcasts are a great way of distracting yourself whilst using the stair machine because let’s be honest, nobody enjoys using that thing.

Write a To-Do list the Night Before

This is something I only started doing recently and wow, has it helped. Before I go to bed I write down five things that I need to do the following day in order of importance. I fit exercise into this list as much as I can, or as much as I feel is necessary. Simply having it written down on a page works wonders. For example, let’s say I have a hypo in the middle of the night and wake up feeling sleep-deprived and groggy. This is the perfect opportunity for me to feel sorry for myself and rule out exercise that morning. However, one glance at my short but sufficient to-do list for the day and those feelings are suddenly replaced with motivation.

Another morning I could wake up feeling bombarded by all the little things that I have to do. This will lead me to avoid exercise for “time-keeping”. However, once you sort out and time batch the minor things into five, broader “to-do’s,” you’ll feel much less overwhelmed. It also will clearly show that you do have enough time in the day, so your excuse is invalid.


As I’ve mentioned before in this post about ‘How to Exercise with Type 1’, I prefer to delay exercising until at least 2 hours after my last insulin shot to avoid hypos. When I was working 9-5, I used to have my lunch at 1pm. By 5pm, I was hungry, tired and repeatedly walked straight past the gym towards home. Bringing a little pre-exercise snack into work with me helped wonders with this after-work slump. I’ve never ventured towards protein shakes as I prefer to eat my food, but you can click here for my go-to pre-workout meals. They are all very low in carbohydrate so don’t require insulin, yet still satisfying and energising!

Also, if I’m doing some cardio after a meal, I’ll take half the amount of insulin I normally take with that meal as the cardio will make my sugars drop. What’s more of a motivation to run than the prospect of a disgustingly high blood sugar?

Create a Routine

A routine is important if you want to actually stay on track. Without a routine, the days slip past and next thing you know it has been a month since you’ve actually used your active-wear for their purpose. I like to vary my exercise because I get bored easily. My perfect week is one day for an outdoor run and three gym days. The gym days are separated into leg exercises, arm exercises, and full body. By having these set days for each type of exercise, I’m more likely to actually do them.

So those are my top five tips for anyone who wants to exercise but just cannot find the motivation. I hope they’ve been helpful and would love to know any other motivational tips you might have!

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