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3 simple tips for more exercise with diabetes

July 28, 2015 by Scott Johnson

Markus recently shared some great ways to get moving and overcome some of these challenges on our German language blog, and I’m helping him bring them to life in English. Ready to take a look?

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From Markus Berndt

Do you feel intimidated and overwhelmed when you think about exercising to help your diabetes? Don’t worry! Did you know that just 10 minutes every day can bring long-term benefits? 10 minutes!

And with a little creativity, the exercises can be snuck into your everyday life. You’ll see! Increasing daily activity isn’t that hard – you just need to get started. Before you know it, you’ll be taking advantage of every little pocket of time you can find; brushing your teeth, waiting for the bus, microwaving food, making coffee. You get the idea!

Tip 1: Home Gymnastics

Air Squats
Fancy yourself a skier? The side view of this exercise looks a bit like Austrian skiing legend Hermann Maier getting ready to take off.

Plant your feet firmly on the ground, lean forward slightly keeping your back straight. Keep your knees above your toes, while your arms are bent at the elbow, pointing forward and held close to the body. Hold the position for 30 seconds, and then rest for 60 seconds. Repeat 3x.

Man doing air squats

Leg Circles
These are great for balance, equilibrium, and improving coordination. Raise one leg at a time and draw figure eights at about knee height. Work up to doing each leg 4x, with a 30-second duration each.

As you can see in the picture on the right, you can use a wall to stabilize and balance if needed.

Front and side view of man doing leg circles

Hamstring Curls
Up next are hamstring curls. Stand with your legs about hip-width apart. You can hold a bar, broomstick, the back of a chair or something similar for stability. Concentrate on your core muscles and keeping your back straight. Now alternatively lift each leg backward, bending at the knee and creating at least a 90-degree angle. Hold for a couple of seconds then slowly release back to the starting position. Do this for 2 minutes.

Man doing hamstring curls

Hula Hoop
Does anyone not know what it means to hula-hoop? What used to be thought of as a young girl’s playtime hobby is now known to boost metabolism, trim the belly, and help tighten your tush. Put on your favorite music for 2 minutes and go crazy with the hula hoop!

(editor’s note: I found this …entertaining video to help get you started! Enjoy! And I’ll take all of the blame for this one. Haha! — Scott)

Tip 2: Yardwork and chores

Here are just a few examples: Shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, cleaning the cellar, organizing your garage, washing your car, changing tires, painting the garden fence, rearranging furniture, vacuuming, washing windows, ironing, trim the hedges, carry dirty laundry downstairs, bathing the dogs, carry clean laundry upstairs, etc, etc. – the imagination knows no boundaries!

Most of us underestimate how many calories we can burn doing everyday tasks. And perhaps now that you know, you can crank it up a notch! Here’s a very practical breakdown:

An average 55 year-old man (5’9″ / 220 lbs) burns, on average, in 30-minutes:

mowing: 220 kcal painting a fence: 180 kcal car wash: 120 kcal vacuuming: 140 kcal watch a football game at the stadium: 60 kcal (hey, had to throw that in there, right?)

Tip 3: Stairs

Ah! The well-known, yet often-forgotten stairs! If you can find a few stairs to climb, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. You’ll build beautiful calves and impressive stamina, and your blood sugar will thank you!

It’s estimated that climbing 400 stairs has the same health-promoting effect as 15-minutes of jogging. In addition to the positive impact on our metabolism, daily stair use helps our heart/circulatory system, improves the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and also helps lower blood pressure!

But please, you can’t just go down the stairs…

You Can Do It!

See! There are a number of ways to sneak some activity into your day! Exercise is good for you and your diabetes. With these ideas you don’t lose much time, nor do you have to overly exert yourself.

If you can find some fun & enjoyment in exercise, that’s even better. Some things, like housework and yardwork, have to be done. But now that you know it can be good for you, maybe that adds a silver lining to your list of chores.


Thank you, Markus! Great ideas to help get us going!

Now where’s my hula hoop…

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