Wow. It’s December already, and the end of the year is barreling toward us like a runaway sled.
If you’re like me, about 11 months ago you came up with a plan to be more active, exercise more often and generally lead a healthier life—and, if you’re like me, that hasn’t gone too well.
Don’t worry. There’s still time to end 2012 on a positive note and start the next year off on an even stronger foundation. You can apply everything you’ve learned so far this year and still feel good about yourself when the relatives start showing up for holiday get-togethers.
My desire originated in necessity. I am a type II diabetic and know—both through my job at Oakwood Healthcare and through other near-constant reminders—that exercise is a good way to help your body manage blood sugar.
“Exercise is the best drug,” said Opada Alzohiali, MD, an Oakwood-affiliated endocrinologist with offices in Dearborn.
It’s also a very broad term that can encompass just about anything, which is good news when you’re trying to figure out what you’d like to do but can be bad news when you’re trying to determine what type of exercise is right for you.
I need a combination of cardio and strength-building exercise. I’m good with the former—I walk a lot, pulled briskly along by an energetic Jack Russell Terrier—but not so good with the latter. That could be one of the reasons why my numbers have been stubbornly high.
Muscle building exercises can help lower blood sugar levels because as your muscles expand, so does their ability to burn sugar. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy a set of dumbbells or lift engine blocks or anything like that. Push ups and sit ups can be effective, as can using a little bit of weight while you’re sitting. It is also not an immediate thing. Don’t expect your blood sugar to drop 100 points right away.
“It’s a long-term effect, not a short-term effect,” Alzohaili said.
As far as cardio exercise, something as simple as walking fast can do it. Try to find something you enjoy doing that elevates your heart rate and shoot for about 150 minutes every week. If you can do it for 30 minutes a day, great. If not, three times a week can be sufficient. The important thing to remember is you need to take a more active role in it; you can’t just let it happen when you can fit it in between all your other activities.
“The same way we plan for meals or sleep, we should also plan to exercise,” says Walid Harb, MD, FACP, who specializes in internal medicine at Oakwood.
For me that means not only putting it on a calendar, but telling someone, too. There is power in the spoken word, no matter how modest your goal may be. Who knows, maybe you’ll even inspire someone else to make good on their Resolution, too!