If your job requires sitting for most of the day, you are not alone. Unfortunately, sedentary behavior can lead to serious health complications when you have diabetes. Learn what sitting too much can do when you have diabetes and how to make healthy changes for optimum well-being.
- A recent report in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting. Americans sit when we commute, work on a computer, watch television, play games, eat meals and more. The health risks of not moving enough include higher rates of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and kidney disease. Too much sitting can have harmful effects on sugar and fat metabolism, causing fluctuating blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Simple changes can help. For example, stand a portion of the time when you are watching television or working at the computer. Standing burns up to 30% more calories than sitting.
- Use electronics to gauge your progress. Try to download an app to your smart phone or computer that sounds an alarm to remind you to get moving. Exercise during TV commercials and take walks during your break and lunch hour at work. Get up every hour to stretch and take a short walk when you are working at the computer. Even marching in place at your computer or while watching TV is beneficial. Take a walk every day to get essential exercise. Walk with a friend, family member or your dog to get motivated. Wear an Omron pedometer when you go walking to track your progress. Try to walk a little bit longer each day to get more exercise. Pick up the pace if you are physically able.
- Make exercise fun instead of dreading it. People with diabetes need to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. Stroll along nature trails to appreciate the beauty of the world. Play with your kids or the dog. Go jogging and plan to run in a 5k race for a good cause, such as diabetes research. Try biking or aerobics classes such as Zumba. Rediscover sports you once enjoyed, such as basketball and tennis. If you have difficulty exercising, try swimming, which is easy on the joints and muscles. Walking in the pool is great exercise even if you can’t swim. Include resistance training and stretching in your daily routine. Take a Tai chi or yoga class to build strength and reduce stress. Mix up your routine to keep it interesting so you look forward to exercising each day.
- For those who sit most of the day, regular exercise may not be enough to improve your overall health. Incorporate exercise into your usual routine. Park further away from work or the store to force you to walk longer distances. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Inquire about getting a standing desk at work. Some desks have treadmills built in. Walk or bike to local places instead of driving. Try to stand for 2 minutes to every 20 minutes you are sitting down. These small changes can add up, especially for people who sit more than half the day.
- Maintain a healthy weight by choosing the right foods. Stay away from sugary, salty and fatty snacks that are usually available in the breakroom at work. Pack your own snacks and keep plenty of healthy choices in your desk drawer and car to avoid temptations. Stay away from empty calories in beverages such as soda, sport drinks and fruit juices. Take frequent walks to the water cooler to stay hydrated and fit additional movement into your day. Nibble on fruit, raw vegetables and diabetes-friendly snacks.
- Talk to a doctor, dietitian, diabetes nurse educator and/or physical trainer to learn more about proper diet and exercise habits. These professionals can help you figure out how to fit healthy foods and movement into your hectic schedule.
Sitting too much when you have diabetes can cause blood sugar fluctuation and related health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and more. With some thought and effort, you can find ways to move more and sit less. Soon standing and moving will become a regular part of your daily routine!