As we get older we lose about 8% of our muscle mass every decade after age 40. Our metabolism is determined by our muscle mass. So if we continue to eat the same way every year and do not exercise then weight creeps up as metabolic needs decrease. That quarter pounder at lunch can lead to a gradual weekly quarter pound weight gain that becomes ten pounds by the end of the year. Couple that with a family history of diabetes and you can see why more and more people are developing prediabetes and diabetes, not to mention feeling sluggish, tired and frustrated. We need to exercise for health.
The Diabetes Prevention Program
The Diabetes Prevention Program, a study involving 27 health centers nationwide, compared 3 different groups of people to see what intervention was the most effective for preventing type 2 diabetes in participants with blood sugars in the prediabetes range. The first group was a lifestyle group, the second was a group that was put on the drug Metformin and the last group was given a placebo. There was a fourth group that was put on another drug but it was stopped after it was found to cause liver damage. The results revealed that the lifestyle intervention group was the most effective for delaying and preventing the development of diabetes. The lifestyle intervention goal was to lose 7% body weight and exercise 150 minutes a week at moderate intensity.
Exercise Is the Best Kind of Medicine
So why is exercise the magic pill? Moving our bodies involves large muscle groups that helps our bodies be more sensitive to our own insulin, it helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises the good cholesterol (HDL). It maintains muscle mass preventing the slowing down of metabolism after age 40. If strengthening exercises are done then this can increase muscle mass and raise metabolism even more, helping with weight loss. Regular exercise improves sleep, mood, and energy level. So why isn’t everyone doing it??
What Do You Do If You Hate to Exercise?
You do not have to start out like gangbusters. I recommend my clients buy a pedometer – a good one that you can wear in your pocket and will be accurate will cost you about $30. The Fit Bit is a good one that can also count your stair steps as well as walking steps. It is recommended that people walk about 10,000 steps a day. A sedentary person only walks between 1000-3000 steps daily. Wearing a pedometer can be a motivator. I had one client who near the end of the day was behind in her steps and ended up walking around her house several laps to meet her daily goal. Another trick I tell my clients is to mute through the commercials (which also helps avoid the munchies ads) and do sit down leg marching through all the commercials. This adds a little aerobic as well as some core strength as you lift your legs. I also recommend that whenever you are on the phone to walk around. The other key is to know yourself. Would you do better in a class that is fun and structured or would you do better working with a trainer to make you accountable? Know what the obstacles are and tackle those first. Is weather an issue that could keep you from going out or making a class? Then try a walking DVD by Leslie Sansone or personal equipment like a stationary bike, elliptical or Cybex. Is time a problem? Set the alarm earlier to get exercise in first thing in the morning before you have time to talk yourself out of it. Or consider exercising over your lunch break or in the evening after dinner.
The hardest part about exercise is just forming the habit. The more often you do it the more likely the habit will stick. Exercising for 15 minutes every day will make it a habit sooner than exercising just 1-2 times a week. The more you associate your exercise with other habits the more likely it will stick. Free up time in the morning to give yourself more time to exercise by doing some of your chores the night before like making your lunch, laying out your clothes and feeding the pets. The more you plan for your exercise and work other life demands around it, the more you will stay with it.
Start Gradually, Notice Improvement, and Encourage Yourself
I have many clients who tell me that exercise hurts their knees or back. Keep in mind that it is our muscles that give our joints and spine support. If you have been sedentary you may have lost this support which might initially cause some pain with movement. I have witnessed many times how my clients who have stuck with the exercise regimen gain strength and support and their pain goes away. The key is to start gradually and divide it up into 10 minute segments if this is all your body can tolerate. Tell yourself that after a few weeks you will notice positive changes. After a few weeks be aware of the positive changes you notice. Take the time to notice and talk to yourself kindly and positively!
Other Safety Tips
Wear supportive shoes – your feet are your shock absorbers. Treat yourself to some new sneakers and keep them just for exercise. Replace them every 6 months when you develop a regular routine. Hydrate ahead of time if you plan in being out in the heat. And remember to stretch after you exercise.
Know Your Body, Know Your Workout
The ideal exercise routine should include some aerobic exercise, some stregthening exercise and some stretching. Obviously if someone hates to exercise then the ideal might be to just start walking on a regular basis. To expect more might mean complete derailment. Often times after a few months of doing a routine and noticing the positive changes in how clothes fit, energy level and compliments from friends and coworkers, then willingness to try other kinds of exercise improves. Success builds success.