It’s no secret that leading an active lifestyle can help improve your overall health. The current recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests that each week, adults need both:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity
- 2 days of muscle strengthening activity
Regular physical activity has many benefits for people with diabetes, including improved blood pressure and blood sugar control. Research has shown that engaging in 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise can reduce your chances of heart disease and help you better manage your diabetes compared to being sedentary. And, the good news is that getting these 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week doesn’t have to all be done at one time. An example breakdown is about 30 minutes, 5 days per week or you can break it up any other way that fits into your lifestyle.
Research suggests that even small bouts of exercise throughout the day can benefit one’s health. It is easy to come up with a lot of excuses as to why we cannot fit in exercise; we have a very busy lifestyle that doesn’t allow much extra time, we really do not enjoy exercise or maybe we have some diabetes complications that prevent us from doing the type of exercise we would like to do. Fitting in daily activity doesn’t have to be overwhelming and can be much easier than you think and in doing so you may find your blood sugar levels are much better controlled. It’s time to quit the excuses and get up & move!
How does exercise help blood sugar levels?
Let’s take a look at how exercise can benefit our blood sugar levels. To put it simply, exercise helps insulin do its job which is to pull glucose out of our blood stream and bring it to our cells where our body then uses that glucose for energy. Sitting for long periods of time or leading a sedentary lifestyle can cause the body to become less sensitive to insulin, resulting in insulin resistance and increases in blood glucose levels. Being active on a regular basis can lower our daily blood sugars which can also help with lowering our A1C. It is important to note that exercise can make your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower your blood sugar for up to 24 hours or more after your workout. It is important to monitor your blood sugar before and after exercise. You want to know how the exercise is affecting your blood sugars and should perform more frequent monitoring especially when starting a new routine. If you are on insulin or an oral medication that may cause hypoglycemia, adjustments to your carbohydrate intake may be needed to prevent hypoglycemia.
How will you fit in your 150 minutes this week?
Here are some ideas to fit exercise into your daily routine.
1. Have a plan
To help keep exercise a priority try to plan it into your weekly schedule. Look at your week in advance and take the time to schedule your activity just as you would schedule any appointments. Make an appointment with yourself to get up and move. Set a timer on your phone or use a fitness tracker to send you alerts to help keep you engaged and motivated. Getting an hourly reminder to get up and move can help you stay on track.
2. Break it Up
If you are just getting started, think of exercise as mini goals throughout the week. Depending on your schedule you may plan for a 30 min walk or exercise class 5 days a week or you may plan for 10 min chunks of time each day. Think about times in your day where you can add in those 10 minutes. Planning for three 10-minute sessions in a day could look like this:
- 10-minute stretching and yoga session in the morning
- 10-minute walk at lunch
- 10-minute session of lunges, push-ups and squats at night
3. Work your workouts into your daily routine
Making movement part of our everyday routine can easily help you get to your goal of 150 minutes per week. There are many ways to add short bursts of exercise into your day. If you notice you have been sitting for a long time, do a short set of exercises. Think about your day, do you sit at a desk all day? How about you get up every hour and take a tour of the office or if you are working from home, walk around the house or out the door and down the block. Stretch those legs out and get the circulation going. Are you sitting at your desk or couch on a phone call? Walk around and talk or do some leg lifts or squats as you are talking. Do you get home from work and need to start dinner? Put on music and dance in the kitchen as dinner is being made. Doing these little periods of exercise throughout the day can benefit our health. Running an errand, park your car farther away from the store to get in more steps. On a conference call, put in your headphones and start walking while listening to your call. Need to clean the house, clean on a mission – dance as you dust and add some extra movements in as you clean.
Doing yard work is another great exercise, weeding, mowing and tidying up the yard can really work up a sweat. Involve the whole family – play tag with the kids, go for a bike ride or walk together or play wiffleball.
4. Have a back-up plan for when things don’t go according to your plan and don’t be afraid to modify when needed.
The summer is a great time to get outdoors and fit in exercise in the fresh air but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, and we need a back-up plan. If you have exercise equipment in your house you can use those, maybe you walk on your treadmill or ride on your exercise bike but if you do not have these things, you can set up your own routine or go to Youtube or an exercise app. There are so many exercise videos and apps available. To find a 10-minute workout – search for 10–minute cardio, stretch or yoga workout – whichever type of exercise you are looking for. If you need a low impact workout, search “low impact workouts or chair exercises.”
There are many ways to add movement into your day, you just need a plan to do it and doing these little periods of exercise throughout the day can benefit your health. Set those alerts, plan exercise into your daily routine and aim for 150 minutes a week for your health!