Because of COVID-19, many Americans are being kept out of their gyms and health clubs. Facilities may be closed or, if they are open, you may not feel comfortable returning already due to fears of catching or spreading the virus. After all, people with diabetes are more susceptible to infections and are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. What can you do keep active?
“Waiting it out” without getting active may not be the best option if you have diabetes. Instead, your home may need to become your gym. The first part of this two-part series had some ideas about inexpensive equipment to consider when setting up your home gym, and here are ideas for exercising using household items.
Now, what will you do at home to stay fit? Here are some thoughts.
Why Stay Active at Home?
Do you really need to be active if you are staying home and nobody is going to see you? Yes! Pandemic or not, exercise can still lower blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance in people who have type 2 diabetes. It can also help with weight loss, which further lowers blood sugar.
Physical activity also improves mood and ability to focus, and it lowers risk for other chronic conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. Maybe even more important now than ever, physical activity lowers stress levels and can improve sleep.
Without a gym, possible activities include bicycling, walking, or gardening for many people. It is also helpful to do some strength or resistance training. Keep in mind that some of the benefits of exercise only last for hours or days, so it is important to keep it up most days of the week.
Squeezing in Activity at Home
There are a variety of scenarios for who else may be in your home as everyone is sheltering in place. If you are living alone, with one or more other adults, or with children who are capable of being self-sufficient for several minutes at a time, you may be able to complete workouts of 10, 30, or even more minutes.
Focused time to exercise may not be realistic for everyone, and that’s okay. Any amount of moderate or vigorous-intensity physical activity counts towards the goal of at least 150 minutes per week. Getting in a few minutes at a time, whether on its own or while multi-tasking, can lead to benefits.
Exercises You Can Do at Home
Now, what can you do to get or stay fit and active at home? So much! Here are just a few ideas. Remember to always warm up gradually at the beginning of an intense workout to let your heart rate and breathing increase and to reduce injury risk.
Quality TV Time
Are you among the home-bound Americans who are using this time to catch up on television shows or movies? Go ahead – you probably deserve it! As you are relaxing in front of the screen, why not turn it into a healthy activity? Grab those resistance bands or dumbbells, or that kettlebell, and work your muscles while watching. If you can’t stand working out while you watch, you can do it during commercial breaks.
Adding Sets Between Chores
Doing the chores can be a workout in themselves, but there are ways to increase the intensity and benefits of almost any chores. Whether you are cleaning the house, doing the laundry, or cooking, you can pause every few minutes to get in a minute or two of one or two-legged squats, wall push-ups, calf raises, bicep curls with water bottles, or other exercises.
The Power of Music
Are you looking for a sneaky way to burn calories faster while doing chores? Turn on some quick music and move to it. Speeding up your motions while washing the windows, sweeping, or carrying laundry around can increase the intensity of the activity. As a bonus, if you love the music you are listening to, you may get distracted and keep up your activity for longer.
Online streaming services and recorded workout videos are all over the internet. Many of them are free, and many others are quite inexpensive. Dance, lift weights, do pilates or yoga, and try all kinds of other workouts from the comfort of your living room. If you have a yoga mat or towel, now would be the time to get it out for yoga or pilates workouts.
Kitchen Timer Workouts
What should you do? How much should you do? There is nothing simpler than a workout guided by the clock. Set a kitchen timer or the timer on your smartphone to ring every 30 seconds or minute, and get going! Just change exercises each time the timer rings. This works for almost anything, such as kettlebell moves, calisthenics, crunches, planks, and strength training exercises.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may advise against high-impact activities such as jumping rope and running. Low-impact ways to get your heart rate up, such as walking with a high incline on a treadmill, swimming, and doing the elliptical trainer, may not be possible without a gym. A kettlebell workout may help you get your heart rate up without high impact.
These are some tips for putting together a kettlebell workout that can tone you while giving you an aerobic workout.
- Minimizing the rest between sets of exercises lets you keep up your heart rate.
- Alternating exercises that work the upper and lower body let you keep moving on the next exercise while resting the muscle group that just worked hard.
- Setting a timer for 30 seconds and moving to the next exercise each time it rings lets you exercise without counting. That lets you listen to music, watch TV, or just space out.
- Writing a list of different exercises lets you just check the list so you always know what to do instead of stopping your workout to think about it.
If you do not have a kettlebell, a gallon jug of water or a 5-lb. bag of flour or sugar (wrap in a plastic bag first to prevent a mess if the bag spills!)
Lark for Diabetes can be there for you for encouragement, reminders to get active, and reports showing your activity trends so you can stay motivated. Plus, Lark can help you control weight, manage stress, and monitor blood sugar with 24/7 support outside of the clinic.