By Shavon LeBlanc, First Mile Care DPP Coach

Convenience is the way of life in our society, as delivery services, fast food drive-ups, and remote controls are how we navigate daily activities. According to the American Diabetes Association, the majority of Americans sit for seven hours a day. But convenience shouldn’t rule your life at the risk of your health.

Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity are all associated with sedentary lifestyles and as we age, our risk of chronic illness increases with our lack of physical activity. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 24% of U.S. adults get the recommended amount of exercise.

The CDC-proven National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) emphasizes the importance of physical activity, as exercise has been shown to lower the risk of chronic illnesses and diseases such as the epidemic of prediabetes. At First Mile Care, we promote physical activity as a lifestyle, coaching participants to reach a weekly goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity.

 I recently gave a presentation on home fitness as part of the First Mile Care “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinar series — read on for more insights.

The benefits of exercise

Finding an activity that you enjoy is essential to participating in exercise and keeping fit. Swimming, cycling, dancing, running, yoga, walking, and dancing are examples of exercises you can do alone or with a friend. Strength training two times a week with either resistance bands or weights can be extremely beneficial to reaching the DPP goal of losing 5-7% of body weight to prevent type 2 diabetes. The objective is to increase physical activity among everyone regardless of where they stand on the exercise spectrum — whether it is something they enjoy or not.

Why is fitness important?

  • Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improving glycemic (blood sugar) control
  • Improving circulation
  • Managing weight
  • Improving sleep and mood
  • Building muscle mass

Regular exercise positively improves our hearts, lungs, blood circulation, muscles, and improves our ability to move well. Flexibility, stronger bones, stronger lungs, and prevention of disease can be achieved with exercise.

Challenges to establishing a fitness routine

Coping with your challenges is important in helping you reach your goals. But we all know that boredom, time, limitations, conflicting activities, uncertainty over what to do, lack of access to exercise sites or equipment, and physical limitations can all inhibit your ability to implement regular exercise in your life.

But here’s the thing. You can always practice Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) and it won’t interfere with your busy schedule. NEAT involves taking advantage of daily activities as an opportunity to get in movement. The goal is to increase your steps while doing normal activities — for example, marching in place while waiting for your food to warm or while cooking; parking further from an entrance; taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator; walking, jogging, or doing arm extensions while watching your child’s sports practice, etc.

Increasing steps at every opportunity and spending less time seated helps to reach that minimum 150-minute goal per week of physical activity.  And it’s OK to break up exercise into short bouts throughout the day if time commitments interfere. Just keep in mind the FITT principle when varying physical activities: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.

Key points to remember: 

  • Reduce risk of chronic illness and disease through regular physical activity
  • Spend less time sedentary and make movement a priority daily
  • Move 10 minutes every hour
  • Have a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week
  • Do strength training 2 or more days a week
  • Begin workouts with warm-up and stretching
  • Build up to the target heart rate range (50%-80% of maximum) when doing cardiovascular activity
More resources

In addition to the Resources section of the  First Mile Care website, there are a great many free resources available online with educational information, tools, exercise examples, and healthy recipes on how to prevent chronic illness and maintain physical fitness at home. YouTube has a wealth of videos from knowledgeable professionals who can provide guidance and company for exercising solo at home.

Here are three useful websites:

Watch the video below for my full presentation on how to keep fit and strong at home, followed by a 30-minute demonstration of an exercise routine — with an Earth, Wind & Fire soundtrack! — to follow along with me. Have fun!

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!