Starting an Exercise Program

Exercise and Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association, The American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Heart Association are unanimous in their recommendation regarding exercise: everyone needs a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. That might sound like a lot, but it averages out to just 21 minutes a day, or 30 minutes five times a week. Plus, activities such as gardening, raking leaves, and even house-cleaning count toward that total. The key is consistency.

In addition to aerobic activity (such as those listed above) you should also add strength training and stretching to your routine. Doing some basic muscle-building exercises two or three times a week helps build strong muscles and bones. There are even effective exercises you can do without using any equipment, including wall-push ups, crunches, squats, and lunges. Strength training has been shown to be as helpful for diabetes as aerobic exercises.

Incorporating some basic stretches into your exercise routine is also important. The more flexible you are, the more comfortable it is to move and enjoy your favorite activities. Stretching at home is easy—you can even do it while you watch the news—or you can try yoga, Pilates, or tai chi.

Before you begin any new exercise program, check with your doctor and ask about any precautions you should take.

Starting an Exercise Program

Here are two easy ways to incorporate movement into your day:

Build a DVD Library

There are some days when it’s just impossible to get outside to take a walk, or to get to the gym. But if you keep a couple of exercise DVDs on hand you will always have a go-to workout. An innovative one to check out: "1 Minute Workout: Total Body Toning," created by trainer Minna Lessig. The DVD features 115 one-minute exercise segments and allows you to program in exactly how many minutes you want to exercise, whether you want to focus on upper body, lower body, abs or total body, and what level of intensity you want. It gives you a customized program instantly. There are literally hundreds of exercise combinations so it's possible that you could do a different workout every day for months.

There’s an App For That

There are many apps that you can download to help you get your exercise in.  There are also many websites with different types of exercise classes available for you to do from the comfort of your own home.  Also consider tracking your exercise.  Many apps, websites, and devices are available, and tracking has been shown to help keep people motivated and moving.

Add 500 Steps at a Time

Wake up with a walk. Walk outside for three minutes, and then do two minutes of step-ups on the curb in front of your house.  Exercise benefits are cumulative–you do not have to do them all at once.  Walking for 10 minutes three times a day burns as many calories as walking for 30 continuous minutes.  Do what you can!

More Simple Fitness Ideas

  • Find one errand per day that you can do on foot. The bank? The library? The post office? The coffee shop? Dry-cleaner? Chances are that one is within walking distance.
  • Walk before you shop. Every time you walk into a store or mall, take at least one lap around the store before you shop.
  • Rejuvenate with a walk instead of a snack. Walk right past that candy machine and straight out the door.
  • Get a buddy.  Having someone to walk or exercise with makes it more fun and has been shown to help people stick with the program.  Find a friend, coworker, or family member, or join a class to keep you on track.
  • Set a goal.  Find a 5K walk in your area that benefits a charity that you want to support, and then start training!  Having a goal to work towards helps give your exercise a focus, and linking it to a charity that you like can help you stay motivated.

End your day with a stroll. There is no better way to unwind than with a 20-minute stroll around the neighborhood.