Yoga and Diabetes 101

With diabetes skyrocketing in a sedentary society, it is no surprise that health care professionals are constantly seeking ways to increase movement and invent novel ways to treat diabetes.  An important part of diabetes management is sustained movement and exercise. Exercise specifically helps diabetes in several different ways.  High blood sugar is caused when your blood cells do not respond to insulin production. When you follow a regular exercise plan, your body starts responding to insulin, which, in return, reduces your blood glucose. Exercise also helps improve blood circulation in your body, particularly in the arms and legs, where diabetic patients most commonly have vascular complications.  Balance and flexibility exercises have especially been encouraged has a good way to start normal physical movement

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Regular yoga practice can help lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, maintain normal weight, and reducing complications.  The consistent practice of yoga and mindfulness can help reduce stress and protect the body from its adverse effects. This reduces glucagon production and improves the action of insulin.The following article does an excellent job of discussing the top yoga poses for diabetes management. Enjoy!

OBX Recap: 5 Ways to Have a More Active Vacation

Staying with your active lifestyle might be a challenge while on vacation.  Whether you’re a gym rat, a Class Pass nerd like me, or just enjoy walking to all your errands, staying active is an excellent way  to keep a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips for maintaining fitness while on vacation:

1.)    Eliminate the car: Renting a car gives you an excuse to not walk to wherever your activity may be. Walk from your hotel to all the different amenities located around you. In addition, think of all the hassle removed by not worrying about parking or GPS.  Most cities and popular tourist locations have bikeshare programs that are also super convenient for traveling around a new area.  Biking or walking the few blocks to your destination can add a lot of value to your vacation experience.

2.)    Enjoy a sport:  Whether you are looking to play eighteen holes, have  pickup basketball game, or heading to the local batting cages; there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favorite sports with your friends and family while on vacation.  Are you traveling on business? If so, suggest a business meeting over one of these activities. This gives you an opportunity for fun as well as some great exercise.

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3.)    Head to the water: The beach or the lake is always a popular destination for vacation, so take advantage of it. Plan a whole day of playing in the water, games on the beach, or general exploring.

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4.)    Cycle in style: Rent a bicycle for a day. This gives you the power and peace of mind to do all the sightseeing you want to do without being stuck in all the traffic you would have been if you would have driven or been on a bus.  In addition, bike shares are incredibly cost efficient, as opposed to cabs or other ground transportation.

5.)    Enjoy the great outdoors: Hiking is one of the best exercises you can do for yourself.  Its great for cardiovascular health, but also involves quite a bit of strength and muscle training. Hiking at most locations is free and requires little to know preparation.  Feeling brave? Try rock climbing or bouldering!

How To Deal With Burnout + A Quick Workout

How To Deal With Burnout + A Quick Workout

I woke up this morning without motivation to even move my big toe.  Today is Day 6 of 7 (12+ hour ) days working consecutively at the pharmacy.  In addition, I have one solitary day off between now and the start of my vacation to OBX (which is still over a week awayBaring teeth smile). Needless to say, I am officially burned out, and I have a looonnngg way to go.  Dealing with burnout is something that I have not yet mastered:  but since finishing my doctorate program, joining the working world full time, and starting my own business, I am slowly learning my way around.  I get many questions from my coworkers asking “how in the world do you have so many irons in the fire at once?”. Honestly, the key is to find something you are really, really passionate about, and then it doesn’t feel like work until you are really, really tired Open-mouthed smileA couple of practices are essential for me to keep moving forward:

Eating balanced, well portioned meals– I know when I get tired and grumpy, all I want is a carb loaded, sugar fest.  Pizza, hamburgers, even those little pinwheel tortilla sandwiches are my weakness.  I feel like I “deserve” these treats for working so hard.  No, I don’t. At least not in full force.  As soon as I indulge, my blood sugar spikes, then plummets, and I am left feeling worse than before.  Continuing to eat well and regularly, with lots of vegetables and high fiber fruits, is the key to maintaining endurance during the day.

Catching my Zzzzz’s– Sticking to a regular bedtime/wake up time is critical for me to make sure I am well rested, focused at work, and able to complete all my tasks for that day at 100%.  5-HTP is my go to for a good night’s sleep during weeks like this (more on 5-HTP later).

Avoid alcohol– As hard as it is to avoid a night cap after a long day, I can tell a significant difference in my sleep and my general digestive health and endurance the next day.  I avoid it until the beloved day-off arrivesHot smile.  My replacement for that glass of wine? Natural Calm (more on this later as well).

Stay on the fitness train– Getting up to workout or scheduling a class on ClassPass is the last thing I feel like doing before or after 12+ hours on my feet.  But once I’m done, I feel renewed, refreshed and ready to go again. A perfect example, this morning.  I did not want to get out of bed, but I knew that I would feel so great and rejuvenated after getting my sweat on.  You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym or accomplish a 10 mile run to get these effects.  This morning, it was a simple, no fuss 20 minute treadmill workout.

This workout can be adjusted to all fitness levels and is my absolute go-to when I don’t have the energy for a hard workout. Try scaling down the speed and just walking. Try it on the bike, elliptical, pool, or even outside. The key is to just make it your own! Trust me, your body and mind will be so grateful. Now I am ready to take on another long day!

Type 2 Diabetes and Fitness: Where to Start?

Type 2 Diabetes and Fitness: Where to Start?

Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as some medications when it comes to beating type 2 diabetes. Every little bit of activity helps. During exercise, glucose (sugar) gets driven out of the bloodstream and into the muscles for fuel.  If your body has more muscle, it can store a lot more blood sugar.  Plus, there’s the weight loss that comes with an active lifestyle: dropping a few (or more) pounds improves your insulin response, further lowering glucose levels. While most exercises will help, the following are a few activities that research has shown to be most effective:

Interval Training

How Often? >Once week for 30 minutes
Any type of aerobic activity helps cells absorb sugar, but interval training (alternating high-intensity bursts with low/moderate-intensity recovery) accomplishes a lot in a short amount of time. One study found that as few as 10 minutes of intense interval training per workout is enough to lower glucose levels by 13% for up to 24 hours in people with type 2 diabetes.   Challenge yourself for a few minutes, even if it is as little as walking as fast as possible for a few blocks.  The smallest change can have a huge effect on glucose control.

Strength Training

How Often? >twice a week for 20 minutes
Strength training gives you significantly more control over blood sugar levels than you get with cardio alone. One study found that exercisers who did a combo of cardio and strength training had a nearly 1% lower hemoglobin A1C value, compared with non-exercisers–better than the aerobic-only group or the strength-only subjects. (Need to apply this? a 1% drop in A1C means the risk of cardiovascular disease drops by up to 20% and the risk of eye or kidney disease by 40%.)  Body-weight exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and dips will stimulate plenty of muscle growth. Try to incorporate 1-2 sets of each move, choosing from exercises that target the whole body.

Keep Moving

How Often? Constantly!
Most people spend at least two-thirds of their day completely sedentary. Even if you are sticking to a fitness regimen, getting in more basic movement during the day can drastically reduce your risk for insulin resistance, heart disease, and obesity.  Use every opportunity to move more. Take the stairs, walk to lunch, or pace while on the telephone. All extra movement burns calories, which leads to better glucose control and a smaller waist line.

Moral of the story: move more and you will see amazing results. Start small and finish strong!