“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear” (Siddhattha Gotama). The health risks associated with living with type 2 diabetes are of no secret to us. Understanding that type 2 diabetes can have profound effects on our body, mind and spirit should serve as a motivating factor toward change. However change is not an over night event, it takes a true commitment and cultivation of self. As the first part of this series discussed there are simple and very effective ways to lower one’s blood glucose levels simply through monitoring the foods that one eats. Utilizing these tactics can be a wonderful compass on the path of change. The counterpart in this quest for change is to increase physical activity. By increasing one’s level of activity they are kick-starting their metabolism and promoting safe and effective means of weight loss and management of blood glucose.
In part two of this series we shall explore some of the various exercise options one can incorporate into their daily lives. These alternatives to the sedentary life style are not only beneficial, but can be done with relative ease. The benefits are of great magnitude and include:
- Lowering of blood glucose levels
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Lowering of unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Strengthening and toning of muscles
- Increase in circulation
- Increase in range of motion and flexibility
- Increased mental clarity with decreased fatigue and stress level
- Increase endurance and breathing capacity
- Weight loss leading to decrease in joint stress
- Increased REM sleep, leading to an overall better sleep
These exciting benefits are only a sampling of what increased physical activity can hold for an individual. Remind yourself that “ A little can truly go a long way”.
New York city is a virtual playground, full of opportunities at increasing one’s physical activity. The size and layout of the city alone can serve as an infrastructure for one’s workout routine. For the duration of this article we shall explore the various ways of incorporating a little physical activity into our lives every single day. Want to walk a mile during your lunch hour but not sure how? Well, walking a mile can be done without a treadmill, expensive gym membership, or a personal trainer. To walk one mile realize that in NYC, 20 north to south blocks is the equivalent of one mile (1). Prefer to walk in another direction, well, 4 east to west block equates to one mile, and judging by how swift and purposeful most New Yorkers move this could be an easily incorporated activity.
Stuck in the office all day long? Well believe it or not you can stay active at your desk with these simple suggestions.
1. Try to regulate your day by setting a reminder or an alarm telling you each hour to stand up, stretch and take a deep breathe.
2. Need to use the restroom? Seek out one on a different floor, this well get your body moving for a couple minutes (2).
3. Take the stairs whenever possible. Although it may be difficult at first, after a couple of stair climbs you will be well on your way!
There are also exercises designed to work while you are at your desk. They are formulated to strengthen muscles, while you are in a confined space with limited time.
- Shoulder shrugs – perform sets of 10 with breaks in between. Aim for 2 -3 sets.
- Arm raises – these can be done sitting or standing. Take your arms from by your side and raise them so that they are perpendicular with your body (form a 90 degree angle with your torso) hold for 10 seconds then slowly raise your arms from this static position until they are completely above your head, arms on each side of your ears. Then slowly lower them back down to your sides. Aim for 2 sets of 5 raises as a starting point.
- Arm circles – these can be done sitting or standing. As stated above for the arm raises, bring your arms into a 90 degree angle with your torso hold them here. For 10 seconds make clockwise circles with your arms, then for another 10 seconds make counterclockwise circles. After the 20 seconds lower your arms slowly. Start off by doing 5 of these; do not do to many at first because you will feel sore the next day and it is better to gradually increase your reps.
- Chair rises – these are a great challenge and have great results. Start by sitting in your chair, without the aid of your arms go from a sitting position to a fully rectus, or standing position, then slowly sit back down. Try to do 10 of these a day to start. Often people will find they like these so much that they will do 10 in the morning and 10 in the evening. But remember start off slow and allow your body acclimate.
Note: Do not hold your breathe during strength exercises this can directly effect your blood pressure. Also do not work the same muscle group two days in a row. Your muscles, like everything else require rest. So aim to do arm raises and circles one day and chair rises another day. Keeping a variety to the workout will give overall better effects.
Ready to take your activity to the next level? Well these are some of Active.com’s top NYC scenic places that can really make a difference in your work out routine:
1. Central park – runs from 59th St. to 110th between 5th avenue and central park west. When the weather is beautiful no matter the season this is a great place to walk, power walk or take a light jog.
2. Riverside Park – Upper west side, runs from 72nd St. to 116th St. Adds an amazing scenery to any workout.
3. East River Walk – not only is it a great walk but it ends at Carl Shurz Park at 81st St with a 20ft staircase, with a great view of Roosevelt Island. Want to see if your chair raises or stair climbing has been paying off? Come climb these stairs!
4. Brooklyn Bridge – a gorgeous scenic walk, or bike ride that is approximately 1 mile long.
5. Empire State Building – for those of you really looking for a challenge every year there is the Empire State building run up. People from different backgrounds all run up the numerous stairs of the building. The vertical component and multitude of steps will get your heart pumping at cardio level in no time.
By combining better eating techniques and including more activity throughout the day a type 2 diabetic will be on the road to a better life. Remember the body works in a harmonious balance and it is through the maintenance of balance that one can produce substantial and profound changes to their overall health. By reducing weight, lowering blood glucose levels, and improving circulation one has made dramatic changes for the better. These simple tactics are challenging, fun and essential to any type 2 diabetic!