Walking – every step counts more than you think.
Such activities are "unstructured" physical activities, and they count, too. There are many ways, therefore, to become more active without having to drag yourself to the gym! For example, walking can be done as either an unstructured or a structured (planned) activity, and it is one that almost everyone can do. It's the most popular leisure-time activity among adults, followed by gardening and yard work. More steps can be added into your daily routine more easily than you can imagine. Just try taking a flight of steps whenever you can instead of the elevator, or at least walk up or down the escalator instead of standing while it's moving and doing all the work. If going up steps is too hard, then start by walking down. Other easy ideas include hiding the remote to your TV, placing your cell phone across the room, mowing your own lawn, and getting up to walk around for five minutes after every half hour of a sedentary activity.
If motivation is your biggest problem, make a game out of trying to count your daily steps. The latest research has shown that even instructing sedentary, overweight women to walk 10,000 steps per day (monitored by a pedometer, or step counter) is more effective for increasing their daily exercise than asking them to walk 30 minutes on most days of the week (like the Surgeon General recommends). If nothing else, keeping track of your steps may help you become more conscious of how active you are (or aren't) and remind you to add in more steps whenever and wherever you can.
The American Diabetes Association sponsors Club Ped, an online group accessed at www.diabetes.org that you can join to keep track of your steps, your progress, and your step goals. All you will need to get started is an inexpensive pedometer, available at your local sporting goods store or favorite online shopping outlet. In addition, a national campaign called America on the Move advocates a minimum increase of 2,000 steps per day for everyone and offers a free on-line step tracker. Numerous other pedometer-based walking programs are available and can be accessed on-line at Web sites, including the AccuSplit pedometer company and StepTracker.com. On average, 3,100 to 4,000 pedometer-determined steps are equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking.
So, now that you know that all physical activity you do during the day counts and that participation in intense activities (like jogging) is not necessary for optimal health and fitness, the world of physical activity is wide open to you. Start by sitting less – if you're not sitting, then you're more likely to be moving around! Then, pick your favorite leisure time activity – golfing, gardening, mowing the lawn, walking, or walking the dog – and do it a total of 30 to 45 minutes per day for as little as five minutes at a time. Don't even worry about finding the time to exercise because then you won't have any excuses for missing your activities. Your new daily goal is simply to be as physically active as possible all day long during each and every day to maximize caloric expenditure and blood sugar use! Even if your overall fitness level is not substantially increased, your overall health will benefit greatly.
For more information on all of the mental benefits of physical activity, please consult my new book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight. Check my Web site (www.shericolberg.com) for more details or to order a copy today.
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NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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