Start your day with a 20-minute walk. Walking is simple, effective and all you need is a pair of good, supportive shoes! Going for a walk also lowers your blood glucose levels, boosts your mood and increases your cardiovascular fitness. Looking for an added challenge? Increase the intensity of your workout by adding hills or getting the same walk done in less time.
Do 30 minutes of resistance training. This can be done at home with resistance bands or dumbbells. You can start with seated exercises, such as biceps curls, triceps extensions or single-arm rows, and then progress to standing exercises such as lunges or sit-to-stands. You could also try lifting moderate hand weights. Perform one set of 10-15 reps for each exercise. Once you get used to resistance training, try upping the ante by switching to heavier weights or trying different resistance exercises. Unsure how to perform these safely? Speak with an exercise physiologist – your GP or diabetes educator should be able to give you a recommendation.
Swim for 15 minutes. While you may not be as fast as Ian Thorpe, swimming provides many benefits, including increased cardiovascular fitness. In addition, swimming uses every muscle in your body, which means it also improves your muscular endurance while lowering your BGLs. Start with walking some laps. Then try swimming one or two laps before resting until your heart rate comes down. Repeat this 3-4 times. Remember, a lap can be kicking on your back with fins on if you are unable to do freestyle. As you get fitter, build up the number of laps you’re swimming each time you hit the pool, or try swimming 3-4 laps before resting. Then increase the length of time you swim. Remember to keep a bottle of water by the side of the pool to combat dehydration.
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Make this a stand-up day! Take every opportunity to stand every few hours and avoid prolonged sitting. Set an alarm or reminder on your phone for every 2-3 hours. Try marching on the spot, or step-ups onto a staircase, or even just some biceps curls at a moderate pace for 2-3 minutes.
Interval training helps you to get fitter faster, without making you overly tired. When doing interval training, you exercise at a moderate pace and then add short spurts of greater effort. It can be done in any of your preferred exercises – walking, swimming, cycling, or with activities that have natural intervals, such as dancing or tennis. Start with 10-second spurts every 1-2 minutes over 10-15 minutes. As your fitness levels improve, you can increase the time to 20-25 minutes or increase how fast you go in each spurt.
Take a class – it can be yoga, tai chi or a circuit class at the gym or local community centre. Classes are great if you’d like a little extra help or want to meet people. Each class should be a combination of strength work, cardiovascular exercise and flexibility. Let the instructor know if it’s your first time, or if you’re returning from a break or you have an injury so they can modify exercises for you. Start by doing the less intense option the instructor offers for the first few weeks. Then increase the intensity of your effort as your fitness increases.
Recovery is as important as exercise when it comes to staying healthy, so make Sunday a rest day. This doesn’t mean that you stay in bed all day, just that it’s not a structured exercise session. Focus instead on your incidental exercise, aiming for 10,000 steps and avoiding prolonged sitting.
Track your step count by investing in a pedometer, or by downloading an app such as MyFitnessPal onto your smartphone. It’s available for free on Google Play or the App Store. Remember to speak with your GP and/or exercise physiologist first to determine whether these workouts are right for you.