While COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, there is another epidemic that Americans should be worried about— and that’s diabetes. Diabetes is a serious medical condition that causes blood sugar levels to remain at dangerously high levels in the body. About 30 million people in the U.S. are living with this disease, and that number is projected to keep growing in the coming years.
With so many of those living with diabetes being in their elder years, it may seem like this disease is an inevitable part of getting older. Luckily for us, there are a few lifestyle changes that can help keep diabetes out of our future— such as your activity levels. Exercise can be used to prevent diabetes because it helps the body manage sugar levels in the blood.
This article will explore some of the ways that you can live a more active lifestyle to help reduce your risks of developing diabetes.
1. Work “Working Out” Into Your Schedule
Humans are creatures of habit. This means that we are more likely to stick to a change once we’ve incorporated it into our everyday routine. For many, exercise is seen as an extracurricular activity that needs to be added somewhere into the day— something they get to if they happen to have time. That way of thinking is the exact thing that keeps people from living a more active lifestyle.
The CDC recommends that adults exercise at least 2.5 hours a week to stay healthy and prevent illness. This can come in the form of traditional exercise, like going to the gym or going out for a jog, or non-traditional exercise, like cleaning your house or taking the dog for a walk. The key to making sure you hit this goal every week is to plan these moments out in advance.
For example, plan to go on a walk around the neighborhood after lunch, or take some time in the morning to do yoga before heading off to work. By finding ways to mix physical time in with the rest of your daily activities, you’ll find it much easier to stay active during the week.
Having a consistent exercise routine is also beneficial in preventing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent of the four types of diabetes, is caused when the body is unable to process insulin, the hormone responsible for turning sugar into energy.
One of the ways that this resistance happens is from having irregular spikes of sugar in the blood. Engaging in physical activity at approximately the same time every day helps your body control these spikes, and reduces the amount of sugar in your blood.
2. Keep Exercise Equipment at Home
Another way to make exercise second nature for you is to keep it close by. This will be helpful for the rainy days that prevent you from running outside, or for those days when you’re running late to work and can’t do your morning routine. In these instances, you want to be prepared with exercise equipment that you can use in your home.
Whether it be a weight bench, an at-home exercise bike, or a yoga mat, these things will ensure that you’re always ready to get moving regardless of what may be keeping you from your normal routine.
These items don’t have to be big or expensive, either. A simple yoga mat, a pair of dumbbells, or a resistance band are all great options to aid in at-home workouts without breaking the bank. You can even buy exercise DVDs or find an exercise playlist on YouTube to help give you ideas on how to rejuvenate your exercise routine to keep you from getting bored of doing sit-ups and push-ups every day.
3. Make It Enjoyable
A big reason why people are prone to being sedentary is that they view exercise as a chore— but that doesn’t have to be the case! Exercise comes in many forms, from dancing to swimming to roller skating or whatever else gets you excited to move. If you want to be more active, then you should choose to do activities that you actually enjoy.
If you’re struggling to come up with a physical activity that you enjoy doing, consider branching out of your comfort zone and try something new. Contact your local parks or fitness clubs to see what classes they have to offer or ask your friends and family what they like and ask if you can join them. This will improve your chances of getting off the couch and keep you active while you find what kind of exercise gets you excited to move.
4. Get Others Involved
Diabetes is projected to affect upwards of 580 million people living with the disease by the year 2030. But if you get your friends and family to start living a more active lifestyle, you may be able to prevent yourselves from becoming one of those numbers.
Exercising is much more fun when you have a partner next to you. It gives you someone to keep you accountable to your goals and provides you an outlet to share both your successes and roadblocks. You can plan group activities such as hiking, a volleyball game at the beach, or even a virtual yoga session so that you’re abiding by current social distancing guidelines.
If you’re having trouble getting your friends and family involved, try joining a virtual community that focuses on motivating you to stay active. Facebook groups and fitness apps are both great places to find an engaging group of people who can keep you excited about working out. The extra support can help push you through the days that you’re not feeling motivated to exercise.
5. Create a Complimentary Diet
It can be difficult for you to try and live an active lifestyle if you have poor eating habits. One reason for this is because food is the source of your body’s energy. Think of it like a car, you have to put the right gas in it in order for it to run properly. The same goes for your body.
Eating a well-balanced diet is a great way to motivate yourself to be active from the inside out. This means eating enough carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals to help your body prepare for physical activity.
A healthy diet is another crucial component in preventing diabetes. Paired with an active lifestyle, a well-balanced diet can help control blood sugar spikes that lead to insulin resistance. The more you change each portion of your life to be a little bit more healthy, the more you decrease your chances of developing life-changing diseases like diabetes.