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What to Do to Lower Diabetes Risk Once Your Home Gym Is Set Up

Natalie Stein
May 28, 2020
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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. 

“Waiting it out” without getting active may not be the best option if you have prediabetes. 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. If you have prediabetes, getting in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity can lower diabetes risk by over 50%.

Physical activity 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.

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

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.

HIIT Workout with Jump Rope

Are you looking for a challenge? What about some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to burn calories, boost metabolism, and get your heart rate up? You can use your jump rope for the high-intensity intervals, and alternate it with walking, resting, or strength training. If you do not have a jump rope, you can boost your heart rate with plyometrics, such as jumping jacks, box jumps, or jumping squats.

For example, one workout with soup cans, dumbbells, or resistance bands might go like this:

  • 30 seconds jumping rope.
  • 1 minute bicep curls
  • 30 seconds jumping rope.
  • 1 minute deadlifts
  • 30 seconds jumping rope.
  • 1 minute overhead press
  • 30 seconds jumping rope.
  • 1 minute alternating leg dips.
  • 30 seconds jumping rope.
  • 1 minute tricep extensions.

You can continue this until you have worked all muscle groups once or twice.

Another workout might go like this.

  • 30 seconds of jumping rope
  • 1 minute of walking
  • Repeat until you get to the goal amount of time you wanted to work out.

Lark DPP can be there for you for encouragement, reminders to get active, and reports showing your activity trends so you can stay motivated. Plus, Lark’s other coaching areas can help you control weight, manage stress, sleep better, and do what you can to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health