Fitness

Low-cost Fitness Options

A regular exercise routine is a powerful tool in your diabetes management plan.  Exercise can lower blood sugar, and helpful for losing/maintaining a healthy weight.  Going to the gym or health club isn’t a great fit for everyone, though.  They can be intimidating for one (especially if you’re just getting started), and the closest gym might still be too difficult to get to often enough to make it worthwhile.  Then there’s cost.  Memberships can be expensive, and some places charge extra for certain fitness classes.  If you’re trying to save money, exercising at home may be a better fit.

But what about access to equipment like weights and exercise machines?  If you have space you can purchase your own exercise machine or a set of weights, but again this might not be an option if saving money is a concern.  If you do have a little budget for fitness equipment, a set of resistance bands (with a door anchor), jump ropes and a stability ball are versatile, low-cost choices.  In reality you don’t need any equipment to exercise (a routine made of bodyweight exercises can be effective and challenging), or you can incorporate some items you probably already have at home into your routine.

Hand weights => Canned goods

Cans of soup are a good option for arm raises or other upper body exercises that use light hand weights.  If you need more challenge you can use a milk jug filled with water.  The more water you add, the heavier the weight. 

Gliding Disks => Paper plates

Gliding discs are circular plastic discs used to slide hands or feet (depending on the activity) along the floor when doing body weight exercises like mountain climbers, lunges, or.  A set of paper plates or a dish towel will work just as well at home.

Squat machine => Wall

Yes, even a blank wall can be used as a piece of fitness equipment!  To do a wall squat, stand with your back against the wall and slide down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, moving your feet out so your knees are bent at 90 degrees.  Hold.  As you get stronger, you’ll be able to hold the squat longer.

Stair machine => Stairs

Another piece of fitness equipment you probably already have in your home or office.  Skip the elevator and take the stairs whenever possible.

Post content reviewed by the Clubs at Charles River Park
Fitness, My Story

My Story: Benefits of Working Out With Friends

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.

Health

Spring Cleaning for Your Health

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!!!

Fitness

Focus on Functional (Fitness)

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)

 

Announcements, Fitness

Spring/Summer Fitness Twitter Chat

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