How to simply work exercise into your day
If you have diabetes, one of the most important and beneficial things you can do to assist in controlling your blood sugar is to exercise.
You may find that one of the biggest challenges to exercising is your lifestyle. In fact, the American work and social time constraints contribute at least in part to the growing obesity epidemic. We work longer hours now than we ever have before and, frankly, have less time to devote to exercise. National experts generally recommend getting 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. But, you may ask, how can you be expected at the end of your long, stressful day to stop at the local gym and work out or run on the treadmill?
What you may not realize is that there are many opportunities all around you to exercise during the day. For example, how close to your office do you park? When you get to work, do you ride the elevator or climb the stairs? When you go out after work or stop to run an errand, how close to your destination do you park? After you get home, do you ever consider going for a walk with your significant other or taking your pet around the block? Walking as much as you can helps to incorporate exercise into your day, and every step counts. Start to think of extra, quick ways to increase the amount of exercise you get. Once you are in that mindset, it will be easier to work movement and activity into your daily routine.
THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Just as patients who smoke likely hear their providers advise them to stop at every healthcare visit, if you have diabetes, your provider has probably brought up frequently the fact that you should exercise. By now, you get it: Exercise is good for you. But, why is it so beneficial? The answer lies in simple physiology.
When you exercise, your muscles require additional energy to continue to perform. They do this by upregulating receptors that assist in pulling extra sugar out of your bloodstream. As a result, exercise significantly improves blood sugar control because it provides a huge helping hand to the pancreas. The pancreas doesn’t have to work as hard to decrease blood sugar. This is truly where the answer lies in helping diabetes.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body is in a state of exhaustion. Over a period of time, your body (especially your pancreas) works hard to try to reduce blood sugar. Eventually the pancreas and the body start to fatigue and are no longer able to keep blood sugar down on their own. This period of fatigue, when average blood sugar starts to increase slowly and the pancreas starts to lose the battle in keeping blood sugar down, is known as prediabetes. You’re moving toward full-blown diabetes and, without help or making necessary changes, you’ll likely end up there. This help can come in the form of medications (such as Metformin) or exercise. Now is the time to make dietary changes as well as to exercise more. Exercise is crucial because it provides an added boost/assistance to the pancreas in controlling blood sugar.
One of the largest muscle groups in your body is your legs, so exercising your legs produces a huge boost in reducing your blood sugar, as this muscle group requires a lot of sugar/energy when being used.
Whether you have diabetes or prediabetes and have your provider’s ok, in addition to walking, try swimming, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis. Find a sport that you enjoy. Ask a friend to join you, get moving and have fun exercising. Every activity counts toward achieving your goals.