Exercise: Keep It Short-Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

By Callie Hicks

Exercise: Keep It Short-Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

Exciting research has come to light that even short bursts of exercise are beneficial for cardiovascular health for people living with diabetes. While traditionally, we think of exercise as a prescribed number of minutes with certain exercises, what if it’s even simpler than that?

There’s excellent evidence to show that exercise is essential for heart health. Reference this article for information about the benefits and detailed recommendations about exercise for cardiovascular disease: Beginners Guide for CVD Safe Exercises.

New research from the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology has emerged that short bursts of exercise are just as beneficial, if not more beneficial, for heart health. The study found that compared with prolonged sitting coupled with a longer exercise session, those who did short bursts of exercise every 30 minutes had improved cardiovascular circulation. A summary of the research can be found in this article by NewsDay: Quick Bursts of Exercise Can Help Diabetics' Hearts.

So what’s the bottom-line?

Break up your time spent sitting and do it often. Here are a few ways to remind yourself to move:

  1. One of the most obvious ways may be to set a timer; set one on your phone, your watch, your computer – wherever you’re most likely to see it.
  2. Another helpful way to break up your time sitting is to stay hydrated! You’ll benefit by getting in your fluids for the day and making plenty of trips to the bathroom to get you up out of your chair.
  3. Set specific intervals throughout the day – if you’re working from home this may look like taking a break in between meetings or after finishing a task. If you’re relaxing at home, take breaks in between so many pages read or between shows watched. This could even look like squeezing in extra activity during your normal daily activities like brushing your teeth or making toast.

Now what might exercise look like?

Anything that gets your body moving! Here are a few ideas of short exercises to do at home:

  • Squats or practicing getting up and down from your chair
    • This motion fires of number of large muscle groups essential for stability and gets your blood pumping quickly.
  • Calf raises: stand with feet square under your hips and lift your heels from the ground
    • Opt for this exercise when you’re brushing your teeth or waiting for your coffee to brew. You’ll be work on stabilizing essential muscles for your balance and ankle strength
  • Upper body presses: bring both palms together at chest height, raise your elbows so they are parallel to the floor and press your palms together firmly and hold for 2-5 seconds.
    • This exercise is great for when you’ve been seated for an extended period and can’t get away from your chair yet. This will fire the shoulders and biceps for upper body strength.

There are dozens of other exercises that can be done from home throughout the day. Visit the American Diabetes Association webpage for Fitness for more information on exercise for people with diabetes. Remember, before beginning any new exercise regimen, consult your care team for appropriate guidance as to what may be safest and most beneficial for your health and condition. Regardless of your age or activity level, there are steps to take to improve your cardiovascular health and fitness in 2021!

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Orignially published on February 19, 2021, updated on February 19, 2021

Topic: CVD

Callie Hicks

About Callie Hicks

Callie Hicks, RD, CDCES is a diabetes educator with Cecelia Health. Callie is passionate about assisting clients achieve their health goals suited to their condition and their lifestyle. She believes balance is the key to health in both physical and emotional aspects. Callie enjoys spending time with her two young children, home renovation projects, and exploring hiking trails and the lake near her home.