My Story: Benefits of Working Out With Friends

July 28, 2016 at 10:30 am | Posted in Fitness, My Story | Leave a comment
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By Jahnelle Bray
Population Health Coordinator

One of my old coworkers made a commitment to get up early every morning to go spinning. She always had so much energy during her day I thought I’ve got to try this! When a spinning studio opened across the street, I got a group of friends together and that’s what we did. That first class was tough and I had really mixed emotions when it was over. I was sweaty and sore, but also really energized. A little while later I introduced another friend to spinning and she LOVED it. She also suggested we go to a class every week. This was great for me because it has helped me build consistency with my workouts.

If you struggle with staying in shape or sticking with exercise, finding an exercise buddy is really helpful. When you’re by yourself, it’s easy to talk yourself out of exercising or just do the bare minimum. When you make plans with someone else, you’ve made a commitment to be there and do your best. You don’t want to feel like you’re letting them down.

Your exercise buddy can push you to keep going when your muscles start to hurt. If I start to feel like I’m ready to give up, I’ll look over and see how my friends are doing. Seeing them going for it when I’m flagging really motivates me to stick with it. Thinking about the class as a group effort also helps. Everyone is there for the same reason and we’re all going to get through this together. I don’t want to be the only person not doing anything, so I tell myself if they can do it, so can I!

It was great finding someone who loved spinning as much as I do and wanted to go regularly. We have a routine now where we text each other every week to decide what day we’ll go. It’s been about a month since we started doing this, and I’m much less sore than I was after that first time! I look forward to class. It’s a chance for me to disconnect and recharge my body and mind. If I miss a week, I don’t feel my best. Working out is a great accomplishment. If you don’t finish anything else in your day, at least you’ve done that.

Spring Cleaning for Your Health

May 22, 2014 at 11:15 am | Posted in Health | Leave a comment
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By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen Wyner, NP

I think it’s safe to say (knock wood) that winter is over and spring has arrived in  Boston. I’ve finally sent my puffy coat to the cleaners, packed away my scarves and Uggs, and begun to plan for the sunshine and blue skies. I seriously believe in “spring cleaning” because my mother drilled it into me as a kid. As an adult, I see her point about cleaning. I’d like to put another spin on “spring cleaning” and share some tips on how it can apply to taking inventory of your health and improving your diabetes control.

This was a very hard winter even by New England standards, and could undermine the best of intentions. I know personally as well as from what my patients have shared with me that the cold, ice, and snow made it very hard to keep up things like exercise and doctor appointments.  The cold and dark made it hard to exercise at home, while macaroni and cheese made many of us feel a lot better. Now is the time to take stock of the past and make improvements as needed.

Medication Review

  • Go through all of your prescriptions to check for any that have expired or you are no longer being prescribed (this also refers to any over the counter or non-prescription medications). Check with the Department of Health or your local pharmacy to find the safe way to discard these medicines.
  • Look through your diabetes testing supplies and check test strips for their expiration date. Check that you have an active and extra glucometer battery. If you have glucagon in your cabinet check that it is up to date.
  • Check to see that all of your prescribed medications are current with your pharmacist and let the doctor’s office know if you need updated prescriptions. It’s a good idea to have an updated medication list with you at all times.

Diet Review

  • Take some time to reflect on your eating habits. If you’ve fallen off track, set up an appointment with your RD CDE. Don’t feel upset or guilty if you need extra help – we’ve all been there! The important thing is that you recognize the need to make changes.

Exercise Review

  • Now is the time to get exercising again. If winter slowed you down, please don’t just resume your usual routine. Start slow and gradually increase your activity as tolerated. Make sure your exercise footwear fits well. You may also need to check your blood sugar more frequently to check for hypoglycemia.

Appointments

  • Medical appointments may have been cancelled by you or your provider because of bad weather. Review your last primary care visit, diabetes visit, ophthalmology check, dental, and podiatry appointments and schedule any that are due.

Disaster Planning

Those of you who have read this blog in the past know that I tend to focus (some say obsess) on planning for the unexpected. Natural and man-made disasters are totally unpredictable and can cause serious obstacles for managing your diabetes.

  • Go through all your emergency supplies and check for content, expiration dates of food, water, batteries, and ALL medical supplies. Review your list to see if certain things are still needed or if new things need to be added.
  • You should review your disaster care plan at least every 6 months (or sooner if you’ve needed to use it). I like to do this in the fall and spring because of the weather. I’ll be sure to have several warm blankets and fleeces within easy reach in October, but in May will probably take a few out but add more bottled water given the great danger of dehydration with high temperatures and bright sunshine. I’ll also add insect repellant with DEET and sunscreen. The American Red Cross has excellent up to date data on their website for disaster preparedness so please check it out at www.redcross.org.

OK…are you ready to tackle some spring cleaning? I have another idea:  lace up the sneakers and head outside to see the daffodils bloom. Happy Spring!!!

Focus on Functional (Fitness)

March 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Posted in Fitness | Leave a comment
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Like many people, we’ve spent a lot of time exercising indoors at the gym this winter (thank you, polar vortex).  Something we’ve been hearing a lot about from fitness instructors is incorporating “functional fitness” elements into our routine.  Functional fitness exercises use movements that mimic everyday activities to increase strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility (range of motion).  This type of training makes performing day-to-day activities like carrying groceries easier, while at the same time reducing the risk of injury.

The key element is using multiple muscle groups together (as opposed to traditional weight machines which work one muscle group at a time in isolation).  In essence, functional fitness trains the body to work with itself.  Bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats and lunges are great examples.  Without a machine for support, the muscles of the core (think back and abs) play a crucial role in maintaining balance and proper form.  Functional fitness isn’t limited to bodyweight exercises, either.  Free weights, kettlebells, resistance bands and balance boards are all useful tools.

Exercises that use more than one muscle group not only help strengthen the core and improve balance, they’re often less time consuming.  Plus since there aren’t any big machines necessary, many can be done at home.  If you have access to a gym, see if there’s a trainer who uses a functional training approach to help you get you started.  And always, check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program.

(Content reviewed by the Clubs at Charles River Park)

 

Suzie and Ray: Suzie Sticks To It

July 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Comics | Leave a comment
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Spring/Summer Fitness Twitter Chat

April 29, 2013 at 10:59 am | Posted in Announcements, Fitness | Leave a comment
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A big thanks to everyone who tuned-in to our fitness chat this week – our best one yet!  We’ve put a transcript up on Storify, so if you missed it you can still catch up.  Lots of good info on starting a fitness routine in there, so definitely worth a read.


MGH logo with blue circle

Join us Wednesday, May 22nd at 2pm EST for a chat on starting a fitness routine for spring and summer.  Mike Bento, Personal Trainer at The Clubs at Charles River Park, will lead the discussion and answer your fitness-related questions.

Discussion topics will include:

  • Is cardio or weight training better for diabetes?
  • Are machines or free weights better for strength training?
  • Is there a best time of day to exercise?

Follow #MGHDSME for more details.  If you’d like to submit a question for our chat, e-mail diabetesviews@partners.org.

Find us on Twitter: @MGHDiabetesEd

Suzie and Ray: No Exercise Excuses

February 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Comics, Guest Post | 2 Comments
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Exercise Excuses: Busted

January 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Fitness | Leave a comment
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Sign "To Gym". Photo Credit:  Christian Robertson Have you seen this commercial where a couple lists off the various reasons they couldn’t work out?  While some of the excuses are pretty funny (“Wednesdays are weird” is a favorite), they all emphasize one thing:  there is an almost limitless list of excuses for skipping out on regular exercise.  Here are some common excuses for not exercising – and ways to work around them.

I don’t have time:  We live in such a go-go-go society that sometimes knocking exercise off the To-Do list seems the only way to get everything done.  If that sounds familiar, maybe you need to rethink your approach.  In order to make regular exercise a part of your routine, you have to make it a priority.  Treat exercise like you would a meeting with your boss or a co-worker (think of it as a meeting with yourself).  If you still have a hard time carving out 30 minutes at a time to work out, try breaking it up into 10 minute segments throughout the day (this video from the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine is a great full-body workout you can do right at your desk).  If all else fails, multitask.  See if there are places you can fit in a little movement through your day, whether it’s walking around the office while on a conference call or doing some bodyweight exercises during commercial breaks at night watching TV.  Remember, a little bit of exercise is better than none at all.

Need to Care for Kids / Family:  Balancing work with the needs of kids and family is a major contributor to the lack of time mentioned above, so the same advice can apply here.  Another option is include your kids in your workout routine.  You’ll be setting a good example for the little ones, getting them on track to start healthy exercise habits of their own, and spending some quality time together as a family.

I don’t have access / like going to the gym:  Gyms and health clubs can be intimidating and aren’t a good fit for everyone.  The good news is you can still build a regular fitness routine without a gym membership.  Walking is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your day, and all you really need is a good pair of walking shoes.  There are a number of places to walk in Boston, and enough scenery to keep your walk interesting.  Weather causing you to move your workout indoors?  See if you can borrow a fitness DVD from your local library.  If you have Internet access, websites like sparkpeople.com have a selection of workout videos you can access any time – for free!

It’s boring!:  Okay, we’ll admit running on the treadmill, staring at the same wall day after day gets old.  If this is the reason you dread going to the gym, it might be time to try a new activity.  Adding variety to your workouts is not only good for your mind (by keeping boredom at bay) it’s good for your body too.  Changing up activities can prevent injury, and keeping your body guessing is one way to break through weight loss plateaus.  You could also try changing your scenery.  Going for a walk or bike ride outside gives you something new to look at (and you can easily add challenge by changing your route).  If all else fails, see if a friend can come with you.  Having someone to talk to while you work out can make the time fly by.

(Content reviewed by The Clubs at Charles River Park. Photo Credit: Christian Robertson)

Diabetes ABCs: Z

January 21, 2013 at 1:00 am | Posted in Diabetes ABCs | Leave a comment
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Zumba
By Sandy O’Keefe
Program Manager, Chronic Disease Education

Z

Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program featuring exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats. Before participants know it, they’re getting fit and their energy levels are soaring!  It’s easy to do, effective and totally exhilarating, often building a deep-rooted community among returning students. Zumba is geared to people of all fitness levels. Dance moves are shown with modifications so students can workout at their current skill and ability level.  According to www.Zumba.com, over 14 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages take weekly Zumba fitness classes all over the world. Try a class today!

Diabetes ABCs: E

November 5, 2012 at 9:00 am | Posted in Diabetes ABCs | Leave a comment
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Exercise
By Paula Cerqueira, Dietetic Intern 

E

Exercise is an integral part of diabetes management. It helps improve blood glucose control in the long run; reduces insulin resistance; increases insulin sensitivity for up to 72 hours after an activity session; promotes modest weight loss and weight maintenance; lowers blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides; decreases risk of heart disease and stroke; and reduces stress, anxiety and depression.

In order to get the greatest benefits from your workouts, it’s recommended that you participate in 150 minutes per week of moderately intense physical activity, such as: walking at a brisk pace, jogging, swimming, bicycling, playing tennis or using an elliptical.

While exercise is an important part of any diabetes treatment plan, it needs to be started carefully.  Check in with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. For those who take insulin or medication that stimulates insulin production, it’s critical to check your blood sugar levels before, after, and during your workout to avoid dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.

Prior to exercise, if your blood sugar is below 80 mg/dL, it may be too low to safely do moderate physical activity.  Eat a small carbohydrate-containing snack, such as a medium piece of fruit or a slice of toast, before you begin your workout.  If your blood sugar levels are greater than 250 mg/dL, you should test your urine for ketones (a byproduct of fat metabolism). Hormones associated with exercise can further raise blood ketones and cause a drop in your blood pH.  Wait to exercise until urine ketones are at a low level. Contact your healthcare provider with any questions regarding exercise and/or your diabetes care plan.

(Reviewed by Debra Powers, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist)

Facing Challenges and Overcoming Fears

July 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Fitness, Guest Post, My Story | Leave a comment
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 By Monica 

Rock climbing.

As good as we are at watching what we eat, sometimes we do slip and have a  little too much (or a few too many sweet treats).  There is a program where I work that helps employees learn how to eat healthy and exercise to lose weight.  Several people in my department have done it and enjoyed it, but I was always reluctant – I didn’t really like going to the gym.  But, when the new session started a few weeks ago I finally signed up.  I’m so glad I did. 

On the first day, we had an assessment of where we are now so we can track our progress and chose a goal for what we wanted to accomplish.  There are several teams doing this program at once, and each meeting starts with a rally where the program’s leader shares with the groups where each team is as far as weight loss, steps taken, and amount of exercise.  The team with the most improvement for the week gets a trophy.  It keeps you motivated to work hard and win that trophy!  

The most unexpected thing about this program is how much I’m enjoying being there and doing the exercises.  It’s changed how I look at going to the gym.  Before, I’d been afraid of not knowing how to use the equipment properly and too shy to ask for help.  Going through this program has helped me overcome my shyness; now I’m not as scared to ask questions if I don’t know how to use a machine or need help getting started.  I’ve also enjoyed meeting with our nutritionist and learning more about mindful eating and portion size. 

I feel great, my clothes feel looser, and I know I’m getting stronger.  I really recommend finding a program like this.  Being with a group can help keep you motivated, and some of the nutrition information might stick with you to help improve your family’s eating habits.  If you have a gym near you, check out their class schedule.  Many offer things like yoga or Zumba; ask if you can try a class to see if you like it.  And don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help.

(Photo Credit: Bryan Wintersteen)

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