Exercise is one of those things that comes along with a healthy life. We’ve talked about it before, and even named it one of the four pillars of diabetes management. But there’s still concern within the Type 1 diabetes community about hypoglycemia. Since working out can cause changes to your blood sugar levels, the idea of working out can make people with T1D (including us, at times!) feel worried and anxious about having an episode of hypoglycemia.
While it’s true that blood sugar often dips after a workout, everyone is different and will see a difference in the way their body reacts to physical activity – often even a difference between different types of physical activity.
However, exercise still provides enough benefits in the form of warding off complications of diabetes that it significantly outweighs the hassle of having to test your blood sugar during a pick-up game of football or when you’re out cycling.
But sometimes getting a solid 20-30 minutes of focused exercise isn’t doable, and during those time periods, it’s good to have a set of activities that you can easily work into your daily routine that will help you stay healthy and fit. Plus, having a regular schedule is good for keeping your blood sugar in check.
1. Play with Kids or Pets
One of the best ways to lock in some quality physical activity time is to make it fun (and less about working out). If you have children or a pet, pick a time each day to spend a 15-20 minutes playing – whether that means dancing around with a little one, playing chase, or taking Fido out for a jog.
2. Walk More
The benefits of walking can’t be overstated. Aside from being a low-impact workout, walking trims fat, and reduces the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast and colon cancer. And the best part? You can maximize the time you spend walking each day by making small modifications to your routine. Get off a stop earlier on public transit or park further out in a parking lot to get in more walking – it’s easy to find excuses to keep moving during the day! In fact, you can use technology to help motivate you. A couple of members of the Timesulin team wear the Jawbone UP wristband to help us track how much we move, how well we sleep, and what we eat.
3. Clean Up
It’s easy to turn a daily chore into a chance to get in a quick workout, especially since cleaning requires all types of lifting, walking, and bending. The major benefit to this is that you get to kill two birds with one stone. Use chores like making your bed, doing laundry, washing your car, or mowing the lawn as an opportunity to move around and get your heart rate up.
4. Choose the Stairs
Taking the stairs is a slightly more intensive activity than walking (assuming you’re not jogging up the stairs), but it can get your heart pumping quickly and helps build muscle in your legs – especially your calves. Opt out of taking an elevator once a day and take the stairs instead. Or, if you live in a house or apartment building with stairs, make several trips during the day to check the mail or run to the store. Breaking up your trips will give you additional opportunities to get in some exercise throughout the day.
Thirty minutes of moderate activity each day will help you stay in shape, keep T1D complications at bay, and live an overall healthier life. And, by breaking it up into smaller chunks throughout the day with activities like we mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way of creating better daily routines that give you lots of opportunities to stay active. Just remember to always test and be aware of how your body reacts, and enjoy the benefits of a more active lifestyle.