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December 17, 2015
With the holiday season upon us, we are all preparing for a busy time spent with family and friends, and often with a little overindulging.
Starting or maintaining a regular exercise regime during this time can easily be lost in the shuffle. Yet during this festive time of year, making an effort to be physically active can aid in managing body weight and reducing stress amidst the feasting and temptation, while providing a beneficial and fun means of bonding with loved ones. Most importantly, it can also be a tool to help control blood glucose levels.
Rather than looking at the month of December as a time when you may let your routine slip, consider the event preparations and gatherings as opportunities to increase your activity levels. You may be surprised by how easily the weekly 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise recommended by both Heath Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association can be achieved.
Holiday shopping can quickly be reframed as a cardio session. Rather than searching for that coveted parking spot close to the store or mall entrance, choose one farther away and enjoy an added brisk walk. You can also make a quick trip through all of the mall or store hallways or aisles before beginning your shopping for extra benefit. Every ten minutes during which your heart rate is elevated will count towards your weekly total.
If you are looking to include the whole family, choose an afternoon of skating with the kids or grandkids. Tobogganing can also be a fun activity for everyone. The return walks back up the slopes will definitely get your heart rate up, and if a little one needs a pull up the hill, that can also serves as a strength training session. Building a snowman can get you warmed up and challenge your muscles. Being active with the younger generation is not only beneficial for your health, but also sets a great example for children, grandchildren and other family members on the importance of being active.
Instead of lounging after the family feast, try bundling everyone up and enjoying a brisk walk around the block to admire the lights and holiday displays. Not only could this be a good opportunity to be active with the family, but exercising after the meal could reduce also postprandial glucose spikes.
Even snow shovelling can provide the perfect opportunity for a full body resistance workout, as long as you remember to use proper posture and take rest breaks as required to avoid injury to your back. The current recommendations for performing resistance exercises which target the major muscle groups of the body are two to four days per week.
Prior to starting a new exercise program, or making significant changes to your activity levels, it is important to discuss your plans with your health care provider. Always remember to start off slowly and listen to your body. If you are on insulin or taking medications that cause your body to produce insulin, you will need to check your glucose before, during, and after exercise. Consult your diabetes management team for more guidance on exercise and glucose levels.
For more ideas on enhancing your activity or exercise routine over this holiday season, or for assistance and support in maintaining or starting a new exercise routine, contact a professional kinesiologist in your area. Kinesiologists are human movement specialists, who are knowledgeable and trained to assist persons with diabetes in improving their health through exercise.
Ontario: Ontario Kinesiology Association (OKA)
Quebec: Federation of Kinesiologists of Quebec (FKQ)
Eastern Canada and the prairie provinces: Canadian Kinesiology Alliance (CKA)
British Columbia: BC Association of Kinesiologists (BCAK)