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You’ve heard it countless times from many sources: exercise is crucial for reversing diabetes and obesity. And it’s true, but it comes in a close second place to nutrition. Fix your diet first to reap the benefits from an exercise routine. Behavioral research shows that, for those who have lost weight, maintaining a regular exercise regimen is the single largest indicator if they will keep the weight off. Finding an exercise program that meets your needs and desires should be your second focus, after becoming accustomed to the whole food meal plan of Five Hour Diabetic. Diabetes and exercise belong together for wellness.

Exercise, like nutrition, is sweating profusely with confusion about every aspect. How do you properly exercise without hurting yourself? Where should I workout – the gym or home or outside? Does cardio or weight lifting cause the most weight loss? Keep reading for answers to these questions that might surprise you.

“Why should I exercise?” is one of the best places to start this dissection of conventional wisdom (which is often more wrong than right!). The belief of conventional wisdom is that you need to exert as many calories that you take in to maintain your body weight. If you eat more, or exercise less, you gain weight. This is mostly false! A vigorous hour-long workout at the gym, chock full of cardio and weight training, will burn about 400 calories. A professional line-backer could eat 2,500 calories (or more) per day, so where does the remaining 2,100 calories go? You cannot expect that light walking and sleeping would need that much energy. Unfortunately, the body is not such a simple science experiment as conventional wisdom concludes. Your organs, your hormones and cells all play unique, complex and intertwined roles when exercising. When physical activity is present above normal resting rates the sympathetic nervous system produces a signal to your muscles. The result of this signal is that more new mitochondria are produced from burning energy in the form of glucose or body fat. This is key because new mitochondria functions better than old mitochondria to process and consume energy. Newly formed mitochondria improve the performance of insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing for diabetics trying to undo the harmful effect of metabolic syndrome. This effect can last up to 72 hours after exercise has been completed. This is the real reason to get active!

Before we progress, you should know that exercise does come with some side effects. You may or may not want these effects in your life; it’s up to you. Research has demonstrated exercise is beneficial to both your physical and mental health. This includes improved mental focus, cognitive functions and memory. In children, university studies have revealed direct correlations of exercising to increased academic performance. It should be safe to assume that adults should also benefit in academics with regular exercise, too. Exercise is also a natural mechanism for feeling good. You most likely have heard of a runner’s high. This condition occurs after extended cardio exercise where the brain secretes endorphins and opioids. This effect has been documented to also exist from other forms of exercise, not just long distance running. Find your favorite exercise and diabetes will lessen it’s control over your life.

Disclaimer: Please consult with your medical professional before embarking on any intense physical activity. If your body is struggling to find harmony with your current situation, there is no need to over burden yourself. For most diabetics struggling with high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or anything else it can prove best to start by altering your diet. This tends to produce the most dramatic changes that will allow your body do more intense activity.

 

Illustration of feet with inflammation due to diabetes and exercise

Exercising should not be painful. Use slow movements when lifting any weights.

 

DIABETES AND EXERCISE SHOULD NOT HURT

Yet another fallacy of conventional wisdom is “no pain, no gain.” As exercise science evolves, researchers are developing a better understanding of what makes a muscle grow or for body fat to be burned and it can be done without “pain.” This catchphrase from Jane Fonda’s workout videos from the 1980’s was meant to sell her videos, not be dogma. It never was based on any credible scientific study and is best deleted from your vocabulary.

Honestly, exercise can feel challenging or even discomforting at times, but true exercise wisdom lies in understanding the difference between mild discomfort and physically hurting yourself. Discomfort is having your heart rate raised and your body covered in sweat, possibly even vomiting. An injury causes sharp pain when experienced during exercise and causes lasting effects for days or weeks. An example of pain is a sprained ankle while running or pulling a muscle during yoga or bench pressing. Find your favorite exercise and diabetes will lessen it’s control over your life.

Slow and low, that is the tempo. – Beastie Boys

Injuries and pain will kill your motivation to exercise faster than any other behavioral mechanism, so it’s best to avoid it. Knowing how to exercise properly will significantly reduce your chances of injury and quitting exercise. Three factors have been identified by professional trainers for injury prevention:

  • Reducing Weight – Using a significant amount during weight training causes excessive strain.
  • Slowing Speed of Motion – The faster pace of running vs walking or quickly jerking weights at the gym can tear muscles and tendons.
  • Minimizing Impacts – Colliding with a linebacker head-on or, more likely, the minor and frequent impacts of running causes injury.

The first two factors probably seem counter intuitive to most people. We see weight lifters adding more and more weight to their exercises to get huge, but it is possible to trigger the same (or more) muscle growth with less weight.  The speed of your repetitions during exercise are problematic because that quick motion demands changing direction at dangerous speeds. Yet, nearly everyone you see in a gym does their reps way too fast. Building muscle fibers can occur with slower speeds. The mechanism of why a muscle is triggered to grow is from time under tension. Take a familiar exercise, like bicep curls, for example. If you reduce the normal weight you use, say 50 lbs, by -25%, to 38 lbs and then do your repetition like your are in a slow-motion video, you have the winning combination. Take five seconds to curl up and five seconds to curl down, controlled and slow. Do one set of 5-10 repetitions and you are done (this should take you at least one minute of time). You may get some strange looks at the gym, but rest assured that this technique is used by several NFL teams to keep their expensive employees free from injury and on the field. A quick video of the slow-rep method.

One of the cheapest and readily available exercises to do is running. Unfortunately, this is the knee-jerk reaction to most people for where to start exercising. Running or jogging is a high-impact activity with the chances for injury far exceeding the chance for success. It is of no wonder that so many people quit exercising after their knees, hips, or feet are on fire or an ankle gets twisted. Running long distances is best left to those people in great shape. Slow it down and walk or hike instead of running. Climbing stairs or hiking a steep grade are better options for those suffering from the inflammatory states of metabolic disorder. The exception to running long distances is doing Tabata sprints in 4 minute intervals on a treadmill. But even Tabata sprints should not be attempted by beginners, it is safest to wait until your second or third month of exercising.

For those people who have not exercised in years, it is important to keep the right mindset about exercising. We often view it as work. And that this hard, trying work needs to happen in a gym to make a difference. If you imagine that exercise will hurt or be boring work, it most certainly will manifest as such. But exercise can be fun and you are allowed to enjoy it! Hell, you could even look forward to it after a long sedentary day at your deskFind the exercise that you consider fun and you will likely make a habit of it. There is no wrong answer here. If you enjoy playing basketball with your son or biking with your niece, keep doing it. Personally, I enjoy hiking with my dog in the woods every weekend, rain notwithstanding. Find your favorite exercise and diabetes will lessen it’s control over your life.

 

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WALK THIS WAY

The most accessible form of exercise to nearly everyone is walking. The barriers to entry are low – you just need a place to safely move your legs and a pair of comfortable shoes. It is one of the best ways for sedentary diabetics to begin getting active. There is some “conventional wisdom” to debunk and some hacks to make walking more effective. If you have suffered the unfortunate reality of many diabetics and lost a limb due to this disease, consider swimming and pool activities. These are discussed further below.

When we eat food our blood sugars naturally rise. In some diabetics their blood sugar levels can sky-rocket to dangerous levels. Regardless of the number on your glucometer, the best thing to do combat this rise is some light exercise, specifically walking. The 25-cent phrase is a post-prandial walk. You have possibly heard that from your medical professional(s) before. Prandial is just a fancy way for saying eating. After lunch and dinner, add in a 15-30 minute walk everyday. This little habit can yield big results. The worst thing to do after a meal is to sit, or worse yet, fall asleep. This is a guaranteed way to gain weight. If you just dined out at a restaurant or grilled out at home, head directly out for a walk afterward. The walk will put those immediate sugars in your blood to good use by being burned in your muscles.

While the post-prandial walk is good for light-duty daily maintenance, but just walking alone is not enough to counteract the effects of metabolic syndrome. We see diabetics fall into this pitfall from time to time. They go out and continuously walk for an hour a day, but never see any weight loss nor improvements in their biomarkers. Walking alone is not enough to count as exercise – you need to do moreResearch has come to the same conclusion that walking at a continuous speed will not improve your health. Another research paper did find one type of walking that produces reliable and repeatable improvements to a diabetic’s health. Interval walking is an easy daily exercise for diabetics to do to see quick results. This style of walking involves walking briskly for three minutes, then walking easy for three minutes. Alternate this pattern 10 times to make for a power-hour of walking. This is the bare minimum a diabetic can do to see results. Listen to a quick audio stream on NPR on this topic.

 

Adult women and young woman on group training in water with dumbbells for diabetes reversing and exercise.

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for diabetics.

 

BEST EXERCISE AND DIABETES WORKOUTS

Jumping into just any kind of exercise is a bad idea. Activity varies in intensity and skill-levels, so we have created a list of exercises best for diabetics. Try these for starters and when you find one that you enjoy, stick with it. If you cannot do any group exercises, try to get a workout buddy or friend to help keep each other motivated and on track. It’s easier to make it a successful habit as a team.

  • Swimming – The pool is a great place for diabetics. Jumping in the water is a great place to do cardio and strength training in one of the lowest impact settings. The coolness of the water will burn more calories due to the thermal loading to your body. And water also will keep you from overheating. Nearly every pool offers group fitness classes.
  • The 7-minute Workout – This popular and effective workout is covered extensively in another article. It can be done at home or when traveling on the road.
  • Walking Up Stairs/Hills/Stairmaster – Just continuous walking on a flat surface does not produce enough results (see above). But once you add in the resistance of gravity, it becomes much more intense. If you live in a flat area, climb the stairs in a bleacher for an hour or do the stairmaster at the gym.
  • Hiking – Connecting with nature is easy and therapeutic. The fresh air from the trees and the sunlight make it hard to be in a bad mood. Search for a hike with some elevation to it and you could be rewarded with an excellent viewpoint at the top. Search for hikes on Local Hikes. If you are flying solo, consider finding hiking partners or a group on Craigslist.
  • Anything Outside – When the weather allows, it is great to get active outside. The vitamin D from the sunshine will make you happy, in addition to the endorphins being released. Fresh air and trees can be a more inviting situation than a stuffy indoor gym.
  • Yoga – This time-honored exercise has gotten a lot of traction in the US lately and for good reasons. It is easy to find classes and does not need much equipment, besides a mat. Keep an eye out for a beginner’s class to get started. There are even extensive yoga DVD’s, for all levels, that can be performed at home. Yoga exercises can build strength, focus and cardio areas of your health. Search for a yoga class.
  • Any Group or Partner Exercise – The options are endless … biking, interval walking, swimming classes, yoga and more. The power of community extends to exercise, as well as, general health. Group classes can foster relationships with new and friendly people and urge you to keep your attendance.
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – This type of workout can be applied to most types of cardio. HIIT walking is excellent, but doing Tabata sprints at a gym or outside will hack your exercise efforts to greatly improved results. The routine is to run as fast as you can for 20 seconds, then walk for 10 seconds. Repeat this pattern 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. If you feel like you’re about to puke by the last one, you know that you are doing it intensely enough. Here’s an advanced HIIT workout requiring no equipment.
  • Commercial Break Workout – Do you find yourself in front of your TV for several hours per week? If so, you should try to offset the harmful effects of sitting with a workout you can do in your living room. Here are two different routines to try out. Commercial Break Workout #1Commercial Break Workout #2. You can print these out and leave them on your coffee table as a reminder.

 

Dumbbell weights on a rack in a gym for exercise and diabetes reversing.

Weight training is good for building muscle strength. Cardio is better at reducing body weight.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CARDIO AND WEIGHT TRAINING

Questions we often hear from beginners are: What produces the most weight loss – cardio or weight lifting? How much of my exercise time should I split between cardio and weight training? Should I only do cardio if I am short on time? First off, congratulations if you have made it this far along the exercise path. If you are curious about these questions, exercise must be becoming a habit for you. There are no right answers to these questions and they all vary on your own body and personal goals.

Cardio as we call it these days is technically aerobic exercise. It can vary in intensity from low to high, but is best recommended in the medium range. Reference this sheet for the aerobix or weight control definitions. It is best to avoid the high intensity areas of cardio. Too much intense cardio exercise also does not work in your favor, as it depletes glucose stores and can cause excessive inflammation throughout your body. However, extended cardio sessions are excellent for reducing overall body mass, but both fat and muscle can be consumed over time. TV shows such as Biggest Loser rely heavily on cardio to produce those dramatic, albeit rushed results. A moderate exercise program for an obese diabetic should involve 2-3 sessions per week of medium intensity cardio. This will help trigger the weight loss process. Good examples of non-painful cardio are: the stair stepper or elliptical machines, swimming, yoga, quick paced hiking or bike riding.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. – Lao Tzu

Weight lifting is a form of strength training that focuses short, but heavy repetitions to induce muscle growth. This type of training can be done with free weights, dumb bells or dedicated machines. The importance of weight training is to build complete sets of muscle groups. This type of exercise can cut body fat, in addition to, growing muscles. The drawback of strength training is that quick movements with heavy weights often produce injuries. Going slow, with a controlled movement, is the best way to build technique without causing lasting damage.

Most regular sporty people, pro-athletes and beefy gym rats incorporate both cardio and weight training for a well-rounded physique. These two forms of exercise compliment each other and can magnify your efforts when both are incorporated into a routine vs just focusing on weights alone. For those diabetics that need to lose a few pounds, it is best to do more cardio than weight training, as this will encourage weight loss over gaining muscle. Cardio should count for 50-75% of your exercise activities.

 

Attractive girl relaxing in bath after diabetes and exercise.

One of the best things to do after exercise is to relax with an epsom salt bath. A quick 20 minute soak can help muscles relax and absorb the critical nutrient magnesium.

 

RECOVERY TIME

A common side-effect of a workout can be soreness or stiffness in your muscles on the following days. This is natural and should be expected after a decent exercise session. This soreness is caused by microtears that occur in the muscle fibers. The input of exercise triggers your muscles to grow and rebuild during the following two to four days. Good news for those starting out at getting active – the soreness of workouts decreases after time. Your tenth workout should not be as painful afterwards as your first. Your body needs time to recover after a workout, so it is actually good not to workout everyday. It is good practice to space your weight training exercise two to three days apart, to let your body heal. The days between weight training can be filled with some medium intensity cardio, such as hiking, stairs or interval walking.

Time is most effective for your body to recover from the strains of exercise. However, there are several other ways to help reduce the discomfort of your body rebuilding itself:

  • Take Fish Oil – One of the many benefits of taking this supplement is that it is anti-inflammatory. It can work as well as taking ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • Drink Water – Your body needs fluids during the recovery process. Water is preferable over sodas, juice or energy drinks which will cause more inflammation due to the high sugar content.
  • Eat Healing Whole Foods – Food is the single largest controllable variable for your health and healing. A great workout followed up by a fast food meal can work to undo your efforts and increase your body’s inflammation. Eating from this meal plan is the easiest way to take the guesswork out of your diet.
  • Take an Epsom Salt Bath – The compound of epsom salt is mostly magnesium sulfate. This critical nutrient is needed by your body for several functions. Magnesium is needed by the body for muscle contraction and relaxation. Watch the video above.
  • Stretching – Light stretching before bedtime can decrease the tightness caused by soreness.
  • Ice First, Heat Later – Any knees or muscles that are warmer than other areas of the body could benefit from a few minutes of icing. The DIY gel packs are easy to make and do not freeze solid. Alternating cold then hot compresses can speed up blood flow to the area.

 

Counting Hands for number of hours of exercise and to cure diabetes

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SHARING IS CARING

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Has this article helped you learn more about diabetes and exercise? If you enjoyed this article, others may also find it useful. If we’ve earned it, can we kindly ask that you share this article online or through email? A referral is the greatest compliment a customer can give a business and we thank you for helping us spread the good word to the millions who suffer from this troubling disease.

 

Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate

FRANK FALAT

I am the resident Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate at Five Hour Diabetic. Here I debunk conventional thinking about nutrition and exercise. My purpose is to enable diabetics to take back control of their health. And make simple recipes that honestly don’t suck.

Photos by Fotolia.

 

Do you have 7 minutes to spare? It’s less than the average amount of commercials shown during one half-hour TV show. Most people do have 7 minutes to spare and I bet you do, too. Adding this habit into your regular routine can accelerate your efforts of building muscle, losing weight and, most importantly, managing your diabetes. No gym is needed; just a chair, your body weight and a wall.  I bet you have all of these as well as those 7 minutes for a workout to manage your diabetes. Does this workout sound too good to be true? Keep reading to find out why it works and how it’s ideal for those suffering from Type 2 or prediabetes.

First, we should mention the necessary disclaimer about exercising. Please consult with your medical professional before embarking on an intense physical activity. If your body is struggling to find harmony with your current situation, there is no need to over burden yourself. For most diabetics struggling with high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or anything else it can prove best to start by altering your diet. This tends to produce the most dramatic changes that will allow you to ready your body for more intense activity. And for those who have mobility restrictions, this 7-minute workout might not work for you.

 

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The 7-minute workout can cause weight loss and may reverse your diabetes.

Smarter exercise, with good nutrition, will lead to weight loss. Exercising too much can cause inflammation and minimal weight loss.

 

WHY DOES THIS WORK?

The background to this workout is what sets it apart from the many other trendy workouts. Two professionals published an article in an issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal that boiled down extensive training guidelines into an efficient high-intensity circuit training routine. It combines the benefits of cardio, weight lifting through body resistance and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). And it’s available on a free website or smart phone app. This is the type of short cut that every diabetic should know about.

One of the two authors of this investigation, Chris Jordan, the director of Exercise Physiology, at the Human Performance Institute, said that “There’s very good evidence many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time.” This statement refers to the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) part of this workout. In recent discoveries, HIIT has been found to improve glucose metabolism and improve fat burning. If you are not familiar with HIIT, it is a type of cardio exercise interval that can be applied to different modes of exercising. It alternates short, intense forms of exercise with rest periods.  One session of a HIIT exercise usually last between 4 and 30 minutes. Here is an example of a HIIT workout:

Your waistline is your lifeline.

― Jack LaLanne

While HIIT is just a subset of the 7-minute workout, the entire workout is defined by these professional trainers as high-intensity circuit training (HICT). (I promise that’s the last of the similar looking acronyms!) The modern form of circuit training has been around since the 1950’s, but several researchers have experimented with increasing the intensity with different exercises. Specifically, they picked exercises that greatly raised the heart rate and by varying the rest times to find the ideal for the most gains in the shortest amount of time. This workout is the result of years of scientific work by experienced trainers.

This high-intensity circuit training (HICT) has proven to be a fast, reliable and efficient means to losing body fat while retaining muscle. The exercises use several of the larger muscles with brief periods of rest in between. Researchers have found this combination to evoke both metabolic and aerobic benefits, which can last up to 72 hours after a HICT workout has been completed. HICT has also been proven to decrease insulin resistance over time, which is significant factor in developing Type 2 or prediabetes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is precisely how to exercise smarter and not harder, for greatest benefits with minimal efforts!

 

Planks are one of the exercises in the 7-minute workout for diabetes.

Planks are one of the exercises in the hyper-efficient 7-Minute Workout.

 

THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

The common wisdom about exercise is just as flawed in its reasoning as the common wisdom on nutrition. How many times have you heard someone say that eating a 650 calorie hamburger will take 6.5 hours to run it off (assuming a 100 calorie/hour rate)? Or that 250 calorie slice of cake will take you 3 1/3 hours to walk it off (assuming a 75 calorie/hour rate). This broken “logic” comes from the dated medical science of viewing body fat in the same context as the thermodynamic burning of calories. They reasoned that burning 1 gram of fat produced 9 calories of heat. This is true when you burn 1 lb of whale fat in a laboratory and measure the 4,086 calories of heat that it produced. It’s surprising that anyone even attempts to exercise at all with these absurdly high calculations for the time needed.

Unfortunately, the body is not such a simple science experiment as they concluded. Your organs, your hormones and cells all play unique, complex and intertwined roles when exercising, even for a mere 7 minutes. When physical activity is present above normal resting rates the sympathetic nervous system produces a signal to your muscles. The result of this signal is that more new mitochondria are produced from burning energy in the form of glucose or body fat. This is key because new mitochondria functions better than old mitochondria to process and consume energy. To refresh your body sciences knowledge, the mitochondria functions as the powerhouse of the cell because it produces most of the ATP which is used as the source of chemical energy. Newly formed mitochondria improve the performance of insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing for diabetics trying to undo the harmful effect of metabolic syndrome. This is why someone who is hiking Mt Everest or the entire 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail can consume two double bacon cheeseburgers and still manage to lose weight. Their mitochondria is working so efficiently and their caloric output is so high that their body has no chance of converting this energy to storage as body fat for later use.

Some indirect benefits of exercise can also prove helpful long after your 7 minutes of exercise has ended. The beauty of physical activity is that it changes these biochemical processes in our body for up to 72 hours. This is why it is essential for those suffering from diabetes to force yourself to get active and stay active. When you exert yourself, your body releases endorphins from the central nervous system and pituitary gland. These chemicals are that feel good to the brain and produce a similar feeling to other opioids. Another benefit you receive from exercise is the reduction in your cortisol, or stress hormones. This is beneficial since one of the top causes of diabetes is from stress and the resulting stress eating. Exercise has even been studied to show that it can be used to control systemic inflammation, precisely the type of help needed by those suffering metabolic syndrome.

 

A chair is the only equipment needed for a 7-minute workout that may reverse diabetes.

This workout only requires a wall, a digital device and a chair.

 

7-MINUTE WORKOUT EXERCISES FOR DIABETES

As the theory behind this workout is very specific, so are the exercises and the order in which they are to be performed. There’s twelve exercises with a quick ten second break in between each. The above website, app or web app can offer the cadence and instruction needed for success.
7-Minute Workout Exercises for diabetes
You will notice the lack of any expensive or complex exercise equipment needed. This makes this routine not only excellent for doing at home, but also if you are travelling and staying in a hotel room. If you are fortunate enough to have an exercise room at work or school, this routine will work there, too. If you make this short workout a daily habit, you should be well on your way to improving your physical health and consequently, reducing the impact diabetes has on your life.

 

Counting Hands isolated over white background

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MODIFICATIONS

The downfall of having a quick workout means that you might become bored with doing the same exercises over and over. As the mental part of our body can become accustomed and bored with these exercises in due time, so can our physical body. When the body is exposed to the same exercises over and over, the exercises become less effective. Once you reach this level, consider doing the advanced 7-minute workout. A good practice, to keep the exercise effective, is to alternate the standard and advanced, by day, week or month, but not during the same session.

For those desiring more intensity, it is certainly okay to double down (or even triple down, if you dare). Complete the first 7-minute workout, take a five-minute break and then repeat the entire 7-minute workout routine again. Should you ever find yourself training for a 5K or a long backpacking trip, this can prove helpful for training since it tackles both the cardio and muscular development. If you have a month to train for an event, start with doing this workout daily for the first week. Then add two per day for the second week, three per day for the third week and, finally, four per day for the last week.

 

SHARING IS CARING

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Has this article helped you learn more about the ease of a 7-minute workout to combat diabetes? If you enjoyed this article, others may also find it useful. If we’ve earned it, can we kindly ask that you share this article online or through email? A referral is the greatest compliment a customer can give a business and we thank you for helping us spread the good word to the millions who suffer from this troubling disease.

 

Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate

FRANK FALAT

I am the resident Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate at Five Hour Diabetic. Here I debunk conventional thinking about nutrition and exercise. My purpose is to enable diabetics to take back control of their health. And make simple recipes that honestly don’t suck.

Photos by Fotolia and Flickr user Haldane Martin.

 

We sit on our commutes. We sit at our work (or our school). We sit some more on our commute home. And then we sit and watch hours of television. All of this sitting is killing you and wreaks havoc on the human body. If you sit for more than 6 hours per day you are 64% more likely to die from heart disease. Sadly, our culture has had an ever-increasing amount of sedentary behavior. More people work at desk jobs in offices than ever before. It takes a concerted effort to keep active both at work (or school) and at home. Thankfully, with some light exercise (think: walking) a few times during your day you can undo most of the effects of sitting and work on reversing your diabetes through weight loss.

 

HOW SITTING IS KILLING YOU

Our bodies are not designed for extended periods of sitting, even with moderate exercise. Until recently, our civilization has been primarily based on agriculture. Farming without modern machinery is a very active task requiring a taxing amount of physical labor throughout the day. In addition to the bending over, lifting, squatting and the digging required by manual farming our bodies are also designed for walking and running. The early days of hunting most likely involved running after injured or slow animals. Our ancestors did not get long spells of time on their keisters. The concept of commuting and working at a desk are two modern byproducts from the industrial revolution.

Okay, so our bodies are not that of sloths or hibernating bears, by design, but exactly what is so bad about sitting all day at work? When you first sit down the body’s position prevents full electrical activity in the legs. Your metabolism also slows down its calorie burning to a mere 1 calorie per minute, quite possibly the lowest rate of your entire day. Sitting for prolonged periods of time will even drop the effectiveness of your insulin and raise your risk of getting, or maintaining, Type 2 Diabetes. Read more about the pitfalls of sitting on the infographic below.

 

Guys Standing

The human body is healthier overall when standing.

 

TAKE A STAND AGAINST SITTING!

As someone important in my childhood once told me, “knowing is half the battle”. Adding in some activity to your day will not only help reduce the harmful effects of sitting but also aid in your battle to reverse your diabetes (or prediabetes).

If you live close enough to work, consider walking or biking instead of driving. This daily activity adds up quickly to get in more activity without having to make a planned effort to drag yourself to the gym. For those out of shape, it’s very important to not give up before getting started. If your commute is easy one way and harder the other, try commuting the easy way leg first then adding in the harder other leg once you can. For example, my office is down a large hill which makes walking or biking to work easy. On the way home, I catch the bus up the hill or grab a ride from a coworker to the top of the hill. There’s a few times in life when it’s okay to half-ass it to start building a habit.

Workdays can get busy and it can be a challenge to stay active during the day. After spending 15+ years in the office world myself, I find myself struggling as well. Some tricks I have fostered to keep my blood flowing during the day are these:

  • Take regular walks. Use your smart phone or email calendar to put in a reminder or alarm. I stand at least every hour and/or try to go outside for a 15 minute walk every 1.5 hours. Consider using a pedometer to track your paces throughout the day.
  • Walk after lunch. Your blood sugar levels rise after eating. This is one of the best times to take a light walk for 15-30 minutes. Burning the sugar in your bloodstream will prevent your liver from converting it into body fat for use later. Come ready for inclement weather and only stay inside if there’s a weather alert.
  • Use a standing desk. The advantages are many and the setup is easy. A bonus of using a standing desk is that you will burn more calories compared to sitting.
  • Always use the stairs. We have a few elevators in our 3-story building, but the stairs are the only thing I let myself use. The exception is when you’re injured or carrying something heavy. Stairs are great exercise, too; look below to see the difference in calorie burning.
  • Use the farthest away bathroom. We all take many trips to the bathroom throughout the day, so why not add some more steps to it. Figure out the bathroom that requires the most steps and pretend the others do not exist.
  • If you drive, park far away. This hack is similar to my bathroom trick above. Find the spot in the parking lot furthest away from the entrance. These small amounts of steps will add up over time.

 

 

BEHOLD, THE STANDING DESK

The raised desk has gained in popularity the past few years and with good reason – it works! It’s easy once you find one within your budget that meets your ergonomic needs. It never hurts to discuss this with your facility folks or your boss, whatever the case might be. I was fortunate enough to have one customized to the height that I needed due to my chronic back problems. The first step is to determine your desk height from this handy ergonomic calculator.

There’s two routes to take on this gravity defying endeavor – DIY or store-bought. I’ve seen several coworkers just raise their monitor up on boxes or crates. It’s effective but not the most presentable. Some easier and appearance conscious options are to hack some furniture parts together from Ikea. This worked for me in my home office. I just used a desk that was intended for sitting and swapped the desk for the higher up shelf to my desired height. Here’s a cheaper version of an Ikea hacked solution.

Store bought versions are preferable when you’re at a formal workplace or do not want the hassle of figuring out Ikea cartoon instructions. Ergotron makes some popular models in many different configurations. UpLift makes a slick electronically controlled desk, but it is not cheap. It is the newer version of desks that are being installed in our office space. They do dual duty since they can be lowered to alternate between sitting and standing. And, of course, there are some options on Amazon that arrive with free shipping. The Safco Stand Up workstation is good for those with a desktop or printer. It’s adjustable in height, too. A sleek alternative for those with laptops is the iCraze Adjustable Stand. It’s vented to prevent overheating and works nicely in bed or on top of any table or desk. If the floor under your standing desk is not soft, consider buying a nice standing mat. It does increase your stand time significantly.

 

Sitting Is Killing You Infographic

 

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Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate

FRANK FALAT

I am the resident Diabetic Lifestyle Advocate at Five Hour Diabetic. Here I debunk conventional thinking about nutrition and exercise. My purpose is to enable diabetics to take back control of their health. And make simple recipes that honestly don’t suck.

Photos by Fotolia.