The most common excuses adults give for not exercising are lack of time and feeling uncomfortable when they exert themselves. While scientists haven’t yet managed to add more hours to the day, there may be new hope for the sedentary.
Some endurance experts are advocating caffeine or other substances to help reduce the perception of effort. While the approach is still controversial, it may someday become as acceptable as a nicotine patch for smokers or an appetite suppressant for dieters.
Until then, there are still the traditional ways to make physical activity more palatable even for the most confirmed couch potato. Try these tips that will help you change the way you think about exercise.
Transforming Your Attitude about Exercise
1. Congratulate yourself. Do you criticize yourself for being out of shape when you feel short of breath or sore after a visit to the gym? Take a page from athletes who welcome those kinds of physical sensations as proof they’re growing stronger and faster.
2. Focus on results. Keep your motivation in mind. Maybe you want to lose weight or reduce your risk of heart disease.
3. Maintain a log. Track your progress. Putting your program down in writing will make it easier to see how you’re advancing.
4. Find a buddy. Working out with a friend or signing up for an exercise class can be more fun than going solo. You’ll look forward to your time together.
5. Form a habit. Exercise is easier when it’s automatic. If you go for a run each morning, you’ll find yourself putting on your sneakers without even having to think about it.
6. Change your self-talk. Telling yourself that you dislike push-ups just reinforces the discomfort. Cheer yourself on instead. Celebrate your accomplishments like losing 5 pounds or moving up to an advanced Pilate’s class.
7. Be patient. It may take several weeks to see any visible results. Hang in there so you can reap the rewards of your efforts.
Working Out at Your Own Pace
1. Respect your limits. Pushing yourself too hard can make you want to give up. It also increases your risk of injury. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your individual condition.
2. Take a walk. Walking is safe and effective for most adults. Start out with short distances, and gradually increase your time and pace.
3. Jump in the pool. Low-impact water exercises can be a healthy alternative for seniors or anyone who needs to protect their joints. If you have trouble finding a community pool, ask a local hotel if they offer gym memberships to non-guests.
4. Lean back. If you prefer dry land, how about pedaling on a recumbent bicycle? You’ll condition your heart without taxing your lower back and knees.
5. Count daily activities. Other kinds of movement qualify as exercise. You can burn calories and tone your muscles while you play with your kids and clean your house.
6. Adjust your schedule. You probably have certain times of day when you’re most productive. If your energy flags after work, lift weights in the morning or at lunch time.
7. Monitor yourself. Health experts agree that most adults can accurately judge their heart rate and level of exertion based on signs like breathing, sweating, and muscle fatigue. If you like using the latest gadgets, you can also buy a fitness tracker to help you decide whether you need to slow down or challenge yourself more.
It’s much easier to stick to an exercise program when you learn to like physical activity. Starting out gradually and thinking positive will help you to fulfill your workout resolutions so you can stay in top condition.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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