An important part of stopping prediabetes involves examining your life and making adjustments that favor healthier living including being able to get some exercise and movement into your day. But how do you do that? Where do you start? Who has the time?
I know all too well how difficult it can be to find time for dedicated active movement, but as my mother always told me, “If it’s important enough to you, you’ll do it.” You may need to cut back on some things to make this happen – think about how much extra time you would have if you did not watch as much television. Or how about any television? See what I mean?
How about using the time to get out and move as a social event? Invite your neighbor to take a walk with you every once in a while. I have previously posted about the health benefits of social interaction. Having someone to support you – and someone you can be accountable to – is helpful as you pursue your personal peak health and stop prediabetes. Include this social aspect into your exercise-movement activities. It is even more helpful for achieving an improved metabolism. Who knows, you may even have a laugh or two, and really give your health a boost to stop, then reverse prediabetes.
If your lifestyle change involves a formal “exercise session,” so be it, but simply moving around for ten minutes at a time can improve your metabolism with or without weight loss. Stop thinking about exercise and movement as a primary means of weight loss. Think of it first as a promoter of a healthy metabolism. A metabolism that stops prediabetes metabolic syndrome. This alone will help you have improved health including a healthy blood sugar level, and a very likely eventual reduction in body weight.
If you are new to the idea of participating in some form of physical activity, don’t be intimidated, and say, “I’ve never done that sort of thing, I can’t start now.” You have been moving your entire life. In my e-book I explain how you were designed for movement. It is integrated into the very nature of who you are.
This becomes especially important if you want to stop prediabetes, and enter your senior years leading a strong, functional independent life that does not involve multiple trips to the doctor’s office, and the resultant expenses that go along with this.
I used to go to the gym like clockwork, but over time this has become more challenging. That doesn’t mean I just stopped working out, it just means I made an adjustment. By the way, the same goes for a minor injury. An injury need not “take you out of the game” altogether. You just need to adjust and work around it…more on that in future posts.
So, in addition to shutting down the boob-tube, I have found that working out at home has been a big time-saver. I tried going to the gym directly from the office, and I felt like I was never home except to sleep. I tried going home first, but then I didn’t want to run right back out again. If this sounds like you, there are ways you can effectively exercise at home.
You may need an exercise video to stay on track to stop prediabetes with home exercise.
Some people need more structure and discipline, and they are afraid they will be too easily distracted to exercise at home. If this sounds like you, there are many DVD and written work-outs available online. Here’s a good one – Hand Weight Circuits [Download] or Body Weight Circuits [Download]
If you follow one of these programs, as opposed to trying to make it up as you go, you will be less likely to be distracted and diverted off course. A recent study looked at the benefit of a structured home-based DVD exercise work-out program to see how effective they really are. And once again, if you think you’re too old, the people in this study were over 65 years of age!
The researchers tested a home-based exercise program designed to:
- improve flexibility
- increase muscle tone
- improve balance
By the way, any movement activity should have these benefits. Even if good old-fashioned walking is your favored form of movement activity, work some gentle stretching and balance movements in once you have finished walking.
The study I mentioned lasted six months and involved over 300 seniors. The videos gave instruction and encouragement for exercise 3 times per week.
At the end of six-months, researchers found the people who used the program had “significant improvements” in scores on several tests of physical function, compared to the people who did not have the video instruction. They improved upper and lower body strength, balance and how well they walked. Strength and balance are very important for continued healthy movement as you get older. As you age it is vital that you maintain the strength of your feet and legs if you want to remain independent and functional well into your senior years…and who doesn’t?
If you have a “free-style” personality, simply getting outside and walking around is advisable assuming you live in a climate that allows for this throughout the year. As I said, get a neighbor or two to join you. Here’s an example of a good beginner’s walking exercise DVD program – Start! Walking At Home with Leslie Sansone: Beginner/Intermediate – 1 & 2 Mile Walk
You are never too old to stop prediabetes.
Don’t start thinking I can’t start this sort of thing now. There is no time like the present (wow, this post is full of cliches!). There are many many studies looking at the benefits of improved fitness at any age, no matter how old you are when you start. Are you going to tell the elderly overweight diabetics in this study that you are too old and overweight to make positive exercise lifestyle changes to stop prediabetes?
Just be smart about it. If you are unfit, or especially if you have a medical problem, keep your medical doctor up to date on what you are doing. If you start slowly, and progress slowly, your body can adapt. I would not be surprised if any medications you are taking can be reduced or eliminated after a while.
The elderly diabetics in the study I just mentioned started out by simply walking 5 minutes every hour. They had a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels and body weight. Once you have experienced the benefits of this lifestyle, you will see your metabolism improve with healthier blood sugar levels stopping prediabetes. You will become a motivational force for your family and friends to follow your lead. Be a leader.
As I said, if you are going to start working some physical-activity and more structured movement into your life, start slowly – “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I don’t recall my mother saying that, although “money doesn’t grow on trees” was a common one. 🙂
Start slowly, however you should gradually increase the intensity of your activity over time if you want to continue to see improvements in your effort to stop prediabetes. Your body can get used to the movements that you do and, in a way, become “immune” to your method of exercise activity. That isn’t a bad thing. It shows that your body is responding positively. Just vary the activities you do, and the intensity at which you do them to keep your body “off-guard.” In other words, sometimes walk more slowly, but walk a different route. This will engage your brain as well as your muscles. And the next time, walk more quickly, or fast-then-slow. Adding a bicycle to the mix every once in a while is also a good move – not only to keep your body “guessing,” but to give your ankle, foot and knee joints a rest.
A couple times a week you should also do some formal resistance activity. This is harder to do at home if you do not have a weight set of some kind, although resistance exercise bands are a good option in the home setting. Start with good old-fashioned tried and true push ups and deep knee bends. This will simulate the bench press and leg squats that you would do in a gym. If you don’t feel challenged enough, pick up the intensity by decreasing your rest time between exercises. I guarantee you will feel challenged if you do this right.
Those of you who are thinking, “I don’t have time for this.” You need to know that over time, AFTER you become more fit, you can decrease your exercise time as you increase your exercise intensity. Do you have 5-10 minutes a day? Tabata exercise is one of the earliest forms of high intensity interval training (HIIT), and because this form of exercise is so intense, it can be much shorter. It is named after Professor Izumi Tabata who developed his HIIT protocol with Olympic speedskaters. I have previously posted about high intensity interval training.
Not familiar with Tabata? Check out the video below – great prediabetes exercise once you have become better conditioned. Tabata is NOT for people new to exercise and physical activity.
In the video she is instructing on the two basic tried and true exercises I just mentioned above – deep knee bends (squats, or sit-to-stands) and push-ups. She also shows you how to modify the push-ups. Don’t feel belittled if you need to do this at first. Another way to modify push ups is to do them leaning against a wall or a table. You may also modify the “sit-to-stand” movement by gently sitting down into a chair and standing back up again. Do not “plop” yourself down into a chair – this risks harming your spine. If you stick to the program, I know you will eventually be doing them in full form.
It is very important that your exercise movements involve the large muscles of the legs and thighs. These large muscle groups are very important regulators of a healthy metabolism. By the way, don’t be intimidated by the youthful age of the instructors.
I have shown this video for two reasons:
- To illustrate how as you become more fit, your exercise time can become reduced.
- To show you some basic movements that you can use in a low-intensity manner.
Do not go out and attempt a Tabata series if you are not physically fit.
So, what is the program? After being cleared for exercise by your doctor, a beginner may start with this simple program:
Week 1: M,W,F walk for 20 minutes at a comfortable pace. Do some gentle stretches when you are done. See if you can do a sit-to-stand and/or push-up movement or two. Adding in some simple balance exercises is also advised.
Week 2: M,W,F walk for 20 minutes at a comfortable pace. On T and Th do 2 sets of 3-5 sit-to-stands and push-ups to tolerance. Take a couple of minutes between sets. You are not pushing yourself here. You can modify the resistance movements as needed and rest a minute or two between sets. If you can’t get down on your knees, lean into a wall and do “wall push-ups.” You can also use a table. If you get a little sore, and can’t do the resistance movements, take an extra day, and just do some gentle stretching and take a short walk or bike ride. If you complete the resistance movements, and also want to take a 10 minute walk, go for it.
During the first two weeks I am just trying to get your brain and muscles working better together.
Week 3: M,W,F walk for 20-30 minutes and start to pick up the pace a bit. You should not be walking so fast that you can’t talk because you are out of breath. On T and Th do 3-5 sets of 3-8 sit-to-stand and push-ups each. If you also want to take a comfortable 10 minute walk go for it.
Week 4: M,W,F walk for 20-30 minutes and start to pick up the pace a bit. You should be walking at a pace that still allows you to talk, but with a little difficulty because you are starting to get out of breath. On T and Th do 3-5 sets of 6-8 sit-to-stand and push-ups each. If you also want to take a comfortable 10 minute walk, go for it.
Congratulations you made it through the first month. That wasn’t so bad. You’re on your way. You may use a bicycle or elliptical trainer if you are becoming bored with walking. A 10-15 minute bike ride is good for T or Th if you have the energy after you are done with the resistance exercise movements.
At this point you may also want to look for other resistance movements to perform. Resistance bands are also a great home option for beginners. Take a look at the video below to see what I mean.
Week 5: M,W,F walk briskly for 15 minutes, but not out of breath. Then do 2-3 sets each of 5-8 sit-to-stands and 5-8 push-ups still taking a couple minutes rest between sets. Then do another 15 minute brisk walk.
Week 6: M,W,F same as week 5, but with a bit more intensity. On T and Th do some light stretching and consider a short bike ride.
As you progress, and continue in your new active lifestyle, try doing more repetitions in a shorter time period, but do not time yourself – No Tabata or other HIIT – it’s too early to get significantly winded. If you have a bicycle, use it every once in a while instead of walking. Vary your walking route. Keep it fresh. This varied approach will also more quickly improve your fitness. If you are someone who is apt to get bored, mix up your strength movements sooner in the weekly progression I have given you. Consider getting some dumbell weights for other different strength-building resistance movements. Here are some examples of resistance movements you can do with exercise bands.
Do not forget about the importance of diet to stop prediabetes.
The home DVD exercise study I mentioned above did not include a diet program. Imagine how much more effective you will be in stopping prediabetes by eating good healthy real food. Real plants and animals, not processed food from a package.
If you are going to begin an exercise program, clean up your diet first. Like your exercise-movement lifestyle change, you do not necessarily need to make drastic diet changes all at once. If your eating is exceptionally poor, at least start making 1 or 2 changes. For example, eliminate soft drinks and bread products. Or drink water instead of soda, regardless of whether it is “diet soda,” and eat more vegetables instead of bread. Just doing that will change your metabolism toward one that will have a fighting chance at stopping prediabetes. Just start by doing one thing – Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can do it. I wish you well, let me know how you do.