Whether it is to get back in shape, to prepare for a 10K run or enjoy some family time, there is no better way to enjoy summer than to play outside. Whatever your goal is, the benefits that come from moving your body are numerous!
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, or help in the control of blood sugars and diabetes management
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
- Improve your sleep
- Improve your appetite
Exercise also specifically helps your blood sugar levels in 3 ways. When you activate your muscles, they will use sugar from the blood stream as their energy, hence decreasing your blood sugars. In fact, you can use exercise to bring down a high blood sugar if you have overindulged or suddenly find your sugars higher than desired. Physical activity also improves insulin sensitivity and helps to maintain a healthy weight over time, which leads to decreased insulin resistance and medication needs.
First, try to eliminate sedentary activities from your daily habits by:
- Standing up from your desk and stretching/doing lunges/doing a lap around the office or your home every hour
- Taking the stairs in your office building
- Walking to the store and back
- Doing stretches while watching television
- Getting off the bus 1 block early
- Parking at the far end of the parking lot
- Using a Fitbit or step counter to motivate you
You can also use physical activity as a way to get more family time! Plan a hike or a bike ride, go rock climbing, go for a run with your stroller, or invent a stimulating pool game. The ideas are endless!
Too tired? Too hot outside? It’s raining? … There is always en excuse to postpone exercise, even when we often intend to start during the summer. Getting started is usually the hardest part! To get you over the hump, try to set a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time oriented. Meaning, avoid words such as: “I will try to be more active”, and go for: “I will go for a brisk walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes, for the next 4 weeks”. Work progressively: start with a small goal and increase slowly.