Jenilee Matz has a master’s degree in public health and worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a health communications specialist. She writes for several health publications including Everyday Health, HealthDay, and Diabetic Connect.
Nearly two-thirds of all Americans don’t get enough physical activity. But exercise is one of the cornerstones of good health—especially for people with diabetes.
Being physically active can keep your blood sugar near target, boost your energy levels, improve your mood, control your weight, and lower your risk of dangerous complications like heart disease.
Experts say that adults should strive for two hours and 30 minutes of physical activity each week. That breaks down to five 30-minute fitness sessions. Don’t let that goal overwhelm you. As long as you’re active for 10 continuous minutes at a time, it counts as exercise.
5 simple strategies to make exercise a part of your daily routine
1. Make time for exercise. It’s common for people to believe that they don’t have time in their busy schedules for fitness. Instead of finding time, make time. We can always make time for the things we find most important, and your health should be at the top of that list.
Add workout sessions to your calendar like you would any other commitment. Instead of going out to lunch during the workday, take a walk with your coworkers. Rather than lounging in front of the TV in the evenings, do sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, and jumping jacks.
2. Start slowly. If you’re out of shape, the thought of beginning an exercise program can be overwhelming. Talk to your doctor and get clearance first. Then slowly ease into exercise. If you can't run or hike, trying walking. If you can't swim, try walking in water. Just do as much as you can in the beginning. Keep in mind that any amount of activity is better than none at all.
3. Be active anywhere. Don’t have a gym membership? No problem! Exercise does not have to happen in a fitness center to count. Any activity that gets your heart rate up is considered exercise. That includes heavy gardening, hiking, and swimming. If you prefer more structured fitness, try a workout DVD or look up a yoga class on YouTube and sweat in the comfort of your living room.
4. Find an activity you enjoy. Fitness enthusiasts have a secret: most of them don’t view exercise as a chore. That’s because they do activities they truly enjoy. Think back to childhood. Did you play soccer or do ballet? Search for adult intramural sports leagues or dance fitness classes. You may end up having so much fun that you forget you’re working out.
5. Find a buddy. A lot of people are excited to begin a fitness regimen, but then after a few weeks, the novelty—and motivation—fades away. Having a workout buddy can be the perfect solution for motivation problems. Workout partners can hold you accountable and make fitness more enjoyable. It may be tempting to hit “snooze” and sleep through your workout, but if you have a friend counting on you to be there, you’ll be more likely to get out of bed.
What are your personal fitness and workout tips? Share them in the comments below.