Regular physical activity contributes nearly countless positive effects on your health, especially for those with diabetes. It helps your body make the best use of insulin and glucose, which controls blood sugar more effectively. In fact, exercise can reduce blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after working out!
Regular physical activity also lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and helps control cholesterol levels, thereby reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. Exercise also helps to strengthen muscles and bones, along with burning extra body fat. It’s a great way to boost energy levels and reduce stress, too!
While the majority of people here in the U.S. do not get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, even a small change can make a big difference. Try these 10 ways to increase your physical activity, reduce blood sugar, and make a positive impact on your health!
Walking has been touted as the ‘perfect form of exercise.’ It’s free, doesn’t involve any complicated equipment, and is a form of physical activity that can be done at any age.
Even a short walk a few times a week can have a powerful impact on overall health and well-being. Walk with your spouse and talk about your day, or bring man’s best friend along. Take a few moments to reflect or meditate by yourself, or meet up with a group of friends and make it a party!
Talk about fun! Did you know you can dance your way to lower blood sugar? Just 25 minutes per day, 3 days a week can make an impact. Whether you have a dance partner, or prefer to boogie by yourself, it’s time to get groovin’!
Swimming is a great way to be active without the stress on your joints. Swimming is also unique in the way that it is a true full body workout all at once. It can not only help lower blood sugar, but can also lower cholesterol and is a fantastic way to burn calories.
These activities are what come to mind when many people hear the word “exercise.” The purpose of strength training is to strengthen, and improve the endurance of, the skeletal muscles. Don’t let the “muscle-building” aspect intimidate you. We lose between 3% and 5% of lean muscle mass per year starting around age 30, so strength training is important for everyone, especially older adults.
You can strength train with everything from resistance bands to free weights, you can even use a can of beans in each hand and workout in your kitchen! Push-ups, sit-ups, lunges and squats are also forms of strength training, in which you use your body weight as the resistance to build muscle.
Gaining better control of your blood sugar can be as easy as riding a bike! Whether you hit the road (don’t forget your helmet!) or ride a stationary bike in your living room, biking is a great low-impact way to get some exercise.
You may already be getting credit for this one! If you have stairs at home or work, walk up and down the stairs a few times to get your heart rate going. Believe it or not, this simple exercise can help strengthen lung function, along with boosting blood flow, and lowering blood sugar.
Very few of us enjoy housework, but unless we want to live in a pigsty, it has to be done regularly. The good news is that those necessary evils like sweeping, mopping, wiping countertops and cleaning toilets count as physical activity. For example, you could burn up to 120 calories by vacuuming for 30 minutes! Since we have to do it anyway, at least it counts for something!
Getting your hands in the soil doesn’t only increase physical activity, but can improve your mood, as well. Many people find peace and solace in tending their yard or garden. A side bonus would be for your family to enjoy all of the healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables you could grow right outside your own home! If the outdoors isn’t your thing, try starting an indoor herb garden. Not only will your recipes benefit from fresh herbs, but your kitchen will smell amazing!
Yoga is a combination of mental, physical, and spiritual development through regulated breathing and body movement. It is a low-intensity form of exercise that has increased in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, and for very good reason! Yoga focuses on developing a connection between mind and body.
Research has shown that just a few minutes of meditation every day alters the pathways in your brain, making you more resilient to stress. This helps to improve not only your mental sense of well-being, but your physical one, as well. Yoga also triggers the release of endorphins (“feel-good” hormones) which help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and tension.
As with any change to your routine, be sure to speak with your physician to ensure that your physical activities of choice are safe and appropriate for your current health state. Exercise doesn’t have to be done in a gym, it doesn’t have to be boring, and it should not feel like a punishment. Try these alternative physical activities to help you get moving toward a healthier tomorrow!