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Small Steps to Increase Activity

couple walking dogsWhile it won’t necessarily impact your eating habits, gradually increasing your physical activity may greatly help manage your risk of diabetes.

If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, research shows you can lower that risk by 58% if you:

  1. Lose 7% of your body weight (e.g., 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds).
  2. Exercise moderately, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.1

Adding physical activity to your day may seem daunting at first. But if you start with small goals and work your way up from there, it will become a part of your routine that you can’t live without.

Here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Set your goal. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week, or a total of 150 minutes per week.2
  • Start with baby steps. If you haven't been very active recently, you can start with 5 or 10 minutes a day. Then, increase your activity sessions by a few minutes each week. Over time, as your fitness improves, you'll find that you're able to do more.
  • Take a time-out. If you’re pressed for time, break up your exercise into periods of 10 minutes or more. Research shows that the health benefits are similar, whether the activity is all at once or incremental.2
  • Work in weights. Two or more days a week, try some weight training that works all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).2 If you don’t have access to a fitness center, this could be as simple as working with free weights at home.

Multitasking Your Workouts

Remember that all activity counts. Think about what you do during the day, and build in ways to increase your movement.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep track of your steps. If you have a smartphone, download a free app that will help you monitor how many steps and miles you travel on foot each day.
  • Make shopping count. Get some mileage out of your shopping trip to Publix by parking farther away from the store. Take an extra walk through the grocery aisles before you check out.
  • Take the stairs. If you work several floors up, opt for the stairs rather than wait for the elevator. Or take a few laps around your office after lunch.
  • Play outside. Make your family time active. Go on a long Sunday stroll. Take your dog on regular walks through the neighborhood. Play ball with your children in the yard or at a park.

Be creative and discover new ways to get more activity into your daily routine. You’ll be well on your way to achieving greater balance in your life. Once you start to move, it’s hard to stop!

Disclaimer: Always check with your physician prior to starting a new fitness routine.

Sources:
1"Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning About Prediabetes." American Diabetes Association. November 21, 2016.
2U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. "How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). June 4, 2015.

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