You can be a healthy diabetic and stay Fit For Life…
I mean, really, the best way to keep diabetes from controlling your life, while also keeping your heart healthy, (they go hand in hand) is through diet an exercise…But you knew that.
However, if you’ve been afraid of starting an exercise program of any kind, and maybe you’ve been concerned you won’t be able to make much progress, or worse, that you’ll get bored and quit, try doing it my way…
I can take you from couch potato to the “how does he/she get that much done in a day?” stage, painlessly.
Walking is a “low-risk” activity. It can help you get and stay fit and lower your risk of serious medical problems, such as heart disease and stroke while making it much easier to manage your diabetes.
But, that’s not all. A regular walking program can also:
➡ Improve your cholesterol profile
➡ Increase your energy and stamina
➡ Boost your “couch potato” bone strength
➡ If you’re a busy person, you can even throw in some short 10-minute long activity sessions throughout the week to help you reach your goal.
➡ If you’re working to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, go for 40-minute sessions of moderate to vigorous activity 3 to 4 times a week.
You can do this by walking 2 miles briskly (about 4 miles/hr). But, if that’s too fast, choose a more comfortable pace. There is no deadline, no race to the finish line. You will build up the stamina sooner than you think.
Our bodies are very accommodating, and physical activity makes them happy!
Ready? Here’s how to be a healthy diabetic and stay fit for life:
➡ The only things you need to get started are comfortable clothes and supportive shoes.
➡ Layer loose clothing, so you can remove items as needed. Remember that energizing exercise raises your body’s temperature.
➡ Shoes designed for walking or running are best. Make sure there’s some “wiggle room” between your longest toe (1/2″) and the end of the shoe.
➡ Avoid cotton socks because they keep moisture and can promote blisters.
And it goes like this…
➡ Start with short distances. Take a stroll that feels comfortable to you (5-10 minutes) and gradually increase your time or distance each week by 10-20% by adding a few minutes each time or walking an extra block or two.
If it’s easier on your joints and your schedule to take a couple of 10 to 20-minute walks each day, instead of one long walk, do it! You may not be flexible yet, but your schedule is!
➡ Focus on posture. This is important.
➡ Keep your head lifted, tummy pulled in and shoulders relaxed.
➡ Swing your arms naturally. Do NOT carry hand weights.
All they do is put extra stress on your elbows and shoulders. They don’t do a thing for your heart or body.
➡ Don’t take strides bigger than your comfort level. Take a comfortable, natural step length. If you want to move faster, bring your back leg through more quickly.
➡ Breathe deeply. If you can’t talk or catch your breath while walking, you’re pushing too had. Slow down.
At first, forget about walking speed. Just get out there and walk!
Next: Pick up the pace
➡ Start by warming up: Walk at an easy pace for the first several minutes. Then gradually walk at a little brisker pace.
- A good way to add variety is to alternate brisk walking with slow walking.
➡ For example, walk one block at your most comfortable quicker pace, two blocks at your slower pace and repeat several times.
➡ Gradually add more fast intervals with shorter slow, recovery periods.
While you’re increasing your speed, be sure to keep up good posture. (it not only strengthens your core, but it burns more calories!)
➡ Walking hills is a great way to tone your legs.
➡ Treadmill walking, while not as scenic, can be convenient during bad weather.
The end of your walk is the perfect time to stretch since your body is already warmed up.
➡ Stretch your hamstrings and calves as well as your chest, shoulders, and back.
➡ Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. **If you’d like some free step by step instructions on stretching without injury, drop me a line using this Get In Touch Link.
To be a healthy diabetic and stay fit for life: Track your progress.
Some experts recommend walking at least 30 minutes a day.
➡ If that’s what you can manage, do that. If you can go longer and farther, do that. There are no hard and fast rules. Your body will tell you when to stop or slow down.
However, if you are presently healthy, are pain-free and want to do more, walking for 60 minutes daily, or every other day, alternating between the slow and brisk intervals will help you burn more calories.
➡ Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean three 10-minute walks over the course of a day. Whatever works best for you.
The best schedule is one that keeps you walking and keeps you fit!
Above all, be safe
➡ Avoid accidents! Listening to lively music while you walk is a great way to energize your workout. However, if you wear headphones, keep the volume down and watch out for traffic.
➡ Wear light colors or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or glow stick if you walk in the evenings or at night.
➡ Walking on sidewalks is best, but if you have to walk on the street, stick to streets with lower speed limits.
➡ Know your area. Pay attention to what businesses are open in the area you’ll be walking, and carry your cell phone with you.
➡ Walk on well-traveled streets instead of taking shortcuts in less crowded areas such as alleys or parking lots.
Two heads are better than one. Walking with a partner or in groups is fun and keeps you safe.
➡ If you experience foot, knee, hip or back pain when walking, STOP, make an appointment to get checked by your doctor to find the cause. You may need special exercises or better shoes.
The saying “No Pain, No Gain” is a lie and may get you dead.
This is not a competition. It’s only about learning how to be a healthy diabetic and stay fit for life.
➡ DO NOT push on through the pain. It could signal other problems needing attention.
➡ If you are still short of breath, STOP. Follow through with a Doctor’s appointment.
If you feel any pain in your chest, or in either arm STOP. Get checked out as soon as possible!
➡ If you have Osteoarthritis and experience increased joint pain lasting an hour or two after walking, consider an alternate activity like using a stationary bicycle or participating in water exercise. But don’t stop exercising!
Another great activity is Yoga. Click the link and read about it, and sign up for the Fit For Life free online yoga course complete with instructions, videos and more. Use the sign-up form on the right hand menu of any page.
➡ Take a day off when you need to.
➡ Listen to your body! Permanent results are a product of your determination to stick with your program, not how fast you push it.
Persistence, doing what you can, where you can, with what you have is what it takes to succeed, in life and in exercise.
P.S. Don’t forget to have fun!