🍬 How To Lower Your A1C Levels - 10 Easy & Clinically Proven Ways
9 Ways to Shake Up Your Diabetes Workout
Starting an exercise program is an important step in your diabetes management, but now comes the hard part: maintaining it. After all, working out can get monotonous if you’re doing the same workout all the time.
“You can’t do the same thing every time. You have to change it up,” says Robert Newton, Jr., PhD, an assistant professor with the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Lab at the LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Doing so just might be the answer to staying motivated to work out. Another important reason to change up your routine: If you do the same workout, your muscles become used to it, which means you burn fewer calories and build less muscle.
The Importance of Exercise With Type 2 Diabetes
The first thing to do if you’re bored and losing motivation is to remind yourself that exercise is an essential part of diabetes management.
“Physical activity helps the body to use glucose more efficiently," Newton explains. "Physical activity also has benefits for other disorders that people with diabetes are at risk for, such as heart disease and hypertension. And we are learning more about its role in kidney disease.”
Both aerobic exercise and resistance training are good for blood sugar control, according to results of a nine-month study published in August 2015 inDiabetes Care. Participants who did one or both types of exercise had lower A1C levels than participants who didn't exercise. In addition, they lost body fat.
The key takeaway, Newton says, is to make exercise a lifetime habit, not a short-term strategy to get your numbers down.
Revving Up Motivation
Try these tips to shake up your routine, challenge yourself, and keep your motivation up:
Set new goals.Newton is an advocate for setting goals — like how many days a week you'll exercise and for how long. The American Diabetes Association recommends an exercise goal of 150 minutes a week for adults, or about 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on five out of seven days, plus two weekly sessions of resistance training. Once you achieve this baseline, add time or intensity for more challenge, says Richard T. Cotton, the national director for certification and the director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Program at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Track your progress.You can use traditional pen and paper, wear a fitness tracker, or download an app that keeps track of your time, route, and pace as you run, walk, or bike, Newton says.
Count steps.Wearing a pedometer or fitness watch or bracelet that counts your steps will give you a new perspective on your daily activity, Cotton says. ACSM recommends starting with a goal of at least 5,000 steps a day if you're sedentary, 10,000 a day if you're already active.
Get connected.“Having a buddy is awesome because you are accountable to each other — and if one of you doesn’t feel like working out, the other can be a source of encouragement," says Dianne Brown, CDE, RD, LD, a certified diabetes educator with the Diabetes Life Clinic at the University of Oklahoma's Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City. Other options: Invite friends and family to exercise with you, or join a club designed for people who share your sports interest, such as a biking or hiking group. Apps can also connect you with others on social media, forming a virtual group for accountability and celebration, Newton adds.
Try a new activity.“Variety keeps exercise interesting," says T.J. Allan, PharmD, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Ageless Gyms in Staunton and Gillespie, Illinois. For instance, "run on the treadmill one day, try a spin class the next day, and then lift weights on the third day,” he suggests.
Change your view.Newton recommends going to a new park to walk, riding a bike outdoors rather than using a stationary one, or if you're mostly an outdoors type, taking a class or doing a DVD workout on a rainy day.
March to the beat of a different drummer.“Play different music while you’re exercising, or listen to a podcast or a book,” Newton suggests.
Challenge yourself through resistance training.Cotton recommends working your way up to 15 repetitions with the weight you're currently lifting. “When 15 reps gets somewhat easy, then just add one to three pounds,” he says.
Game it.Find a way to make your goals, activity, and social support more like a game. “A few of the smaller gyms are using real-time heart rate monitoring, which creates a game-like effect during your workouts," Allan says. "That gamification can really turn a boring workout into an addicting one."
More Good Advice
While trying a new exercise is important, be sure to check your blood sugar often to find out how it affects you, Brown says. Have water handy, along with glucose tablets or another quick source of glucose, in the event of hypoglycemia. And don’t neglect your feet: Wear appropriate workout shoes that fit well and check your feet daily for sores or blisters.
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