Welcome to Week 3! We’re talking about physical activity today.
Physical activity is so important for good health. It helps reduce stress and can improve blood pressure, sleep, and immune system health. With all those benefits, it’s no surprise that it can help with blood sugar management too.
People with insulin resistance or diabetes have trouble moving the sugar into the cells. Insulin is the signal that tells the cells to open their doors, and the cells just aren’t listening. Lucky for us, activity gives our bodies a work-around. When you exercise, walk, or even dance, your muscles send a signal to your cells to let sugar in – no insulin needed! This is why if you have a high blood sugar reading, a quick, 15-minute walk can help bring your blood sugar back into a safe range. Don’t believe us? Next time you have a high reading, do some physical activity for 15 minutes and test again. We bet you’ll be surprised!
Even more amazing, with regular exercise, our cells become more sensitive to insulin. This increase in insulin sensitivity helps keep blood sugar in the safe zone more easily throughout the day.
Note: Since exercise is so effective for lowering blood sugar, it’s important to monitor blood sugar levels before and after exercise, especially when starting a new routine, to prevent or treat hypoglycemia.
Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. You don’t need to do this all at once, and it’s better to break it up so you’re moving consistently throughout the week. Aim for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. If you have difficulty finding a 30-minute chunk of time during the day, you can break that 30 minutes down further, getting 10 minutes, three times a day.
To get the most of your exercise, you want to make sure it’s moderate-intensity. This means that you are getting your heart pumping and that you can still talk during the activity, but you can’t easily sing.
Here are some examples of moderate-intensity exercise:
It’s also recommended that you include activities that help with flexibility, such as yoga or stretching, and to include two days a week of strength training exercises like weights, resistance training, yoga, and other bodyweight exercises.
Note: It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They may have some alternate targets for you to start with.
If you hate jogging, don’t set a goal to jog three times a week since you will use every excuse in the book to avoid it! Make a list of physical activities you know that you do like and then brainstorm ways to incorporate them into your daily or weekly routine.
If you are starting a new exercise routine, be realistic about how long and how often you can do it each week. Setting goals that seem doable is very important to making sure you can succeed! You can always add on to your goal next week. Setting realistic goals is part of the SMART method for goal setting. You can read more about SMART goals here, or chat with a Health Coach about making a SMART goal.
Jot down what your main barriers to exercise are right now. Is it finding the time? Energy? Don’t be afraid to write it down. Once you identify those barriers, you can plan ahead ways to overcome them. Is it finding childcare to go exercise? Maybe make it a family activity instead. Are you too tired at the end of the day? Find an activity that you look forward to, or block off time earlier in the day to get moving.
Making exercise a social activity creates accountability, which means you have to show up! It also can make exercise much more fun. You can plan activities with family or friends like hiking or biking, or walk with a coworker on your lunch break. If you can’t all get together, something like a step or mile challenge with friends can help keep you motivated.
Maybe you aren’t really sure what exercise you really enjoy yet and maybe traditional exercises like aerobics and running aren’t for you. Now is a good time to try different things out until you find the thing that really sparks joy. Try things like geocaching, orienteering, living room dance parties, exercise video games, drumming, jumping on a trampoline. Anything that gets you moving counts!
on November 16th, 2020. Heather is a Certified Diabetes Educator, has been a Registered Dietitian for over 12 years, and is Brook's Health Director.