As we age, our risk for heart disease can increase. Physical activity, along with good nutrition, is crucial to reducing heart disease risk.
New research found that senior adults who were moderately inactive had a 14% reduction in cardiovascular events compared to senior adults that were not physically active at all.
Imagine… just a small amount of low-impact physical activity, like walking, could make such a huge impact on health!
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 many Americans fall short of the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week, research has shown that even a short walk each day can make a major difference in 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.
For diabetics, there are a few points to consider before embarking on your walks. First and foremost, check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is low, try snacking on a small orange. Wait about 15 minutes, then check your sugar again.
If your blood sugar levels are high, have a high-protein snack like a handful of nuts and a slice of cheese. Wait for blood sugar to stabilize (this could take up to an hour) before heading out on your jaunt.
Don’t forget to hydrate! Drink 8-16 ounces bottles of water before your walk, sip water throughout, and drink plenty of water once you’ve finished.
This tip is especially crucial for diabetics – invest in a good pair of shoes. Individuals with high blood sugar need to choose real athletic shoes that are in good condition, are appropriate for the type of exercise you’re performing, and fit your feet correctly. For example, don’t go for a long walk in your flip-flops!
Also be mindful of any numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in your feet. Due to neuropathy, diabetics can sustain injuries (especially on the feet) without realizing. Check carefully for blisters, splinters, or redness every time you put your shoes on and take them off.
Start slowly. Do not give yourself unrealistic, unattainable goals. For example, your first exercise goal could be to take two walks each week. You can choose the days, you can choose the times, and you can choose to walk alone or with company.
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!
However you get moving… just do it!