Physical activity or exercise remains one of the key elements in diabetes management. It not only helps control blood sugar levels but also improves the quality of life by preventing diabetes-related complications like heart disease. “Despite knowing the positive effects of exercise on diabetes control, many people fail to get their daily dose of physical activity due to the sedentary nature of work and stressful lifestyles,” says Dr. Ratan Kumar Vaish, Senior Consultant Physician from Astha Multi-Specialty Center, Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. “It is important to spend at least 30 minutes on being physically active every day,” he adds. Even the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people having diabetes should not sit for more than 90 minutes at a stretch and should make an effort to reduce their sedentary time.
So, how exactly are you going to work on reducing your sedentary hours if you are spending more than 8-9 hours of the day in front of your computer or sitting on a chair?
Here are some tips to increase your physical activity while at work:
1. Increase your walking time
Walking is the most common and easiest physical activity. So, you can focus on increasing your physical activity by walking daily. If your workplace is closer to your home, avoid taking a vehicle everyday. Make an effort to leave your home 15-20 minutes early and walk to reach your office.
2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
If your workplace is not at a walking distance from your home and you have to take a vehicle or public transport everyday, then make an effort to climb the stairs to reach your office instead of taking the elevator every time. Aerobic exercises like climbing the stairs increase cardiac output and lower blood pressure, lipid levels and insulin resistance, which is beneficial for controlling diabetes.
3. Take intermittent breaks between work
“Another way of increasing physical activity at work is to walk around the office instead of relying on calls and email conversations. After every 30 minutes, get up from your chair and walk around. You can utilize that time to communicate work-related information to your colleagues or employer,” explains Dr. Ratan.
4. Increase physical activity post-lunch
The timing of physical activity has a direct effect on sugar levels. In general, it has been noted that low-intensity aerobic exercises like walking when performed after having a meal can help lower sugar levels. So, after having lunch, walk for 15 minutes before you resume your work.
5. Use gym facilities
“Today, many workplaces offer gym memberships for their employees with a tie-up in nearby facilities. If the facility is right in your office building, make sure you take advantage of it and become a regular member. You can easily spare 30 minutes at least 2 times a week and work on moderate to vigorous-intensity exercises,” suggest Dr. Ratan. Resistance exercises, weight lifting and exercises involving equipment improve strength, balance and flexibility, which in turn helps you attain glucose stability and optimal sugar levels.
6. Stretch your muscles
Passive static stretching exercises can lower postprandial increase in sugar levels in diabetics. These passive stretching exercises can be easily included in your daily routine while you are at work. Stretch your upper body muscles like the trapezius, the shoulders, the back, and the neck. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times.
Note that these tips are not the only ones that will help you control diabetes. “Physical activity is one of the aspects of diabetes management. Along with exercising, a healthy diet also plays a key role in maintaining sugar levels. Besides, other habits like smoking and drinking along with sleep patterns also have a huge impact on diabetes and its related complications, which need to be addressed in every individual,” concludes Dr. Ratan.
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