As we all know that it's recommended that we as diabetics should exercise as part of our diabetes management plans. When a crisis happens like we have going on now, we cannot go out and go to the gym. And in some places, we can't even go to the park anymore as we are required to stay home or park is closed. For this reason, we need to work out at home - being it's our only option at this time.
One at-home exercise: Walking
Walking is one of the most popular and easiest ways to get physical activity in to help manage diabetes. Many like to go to the park, gym, mall, or other areas that are no longer available for the time being.
In my early days of diabetes, I didn't go to the gym. I walked laps around my yard and house for 15 to 45 minutes a day. That can be a great way to get your running or walking in. Don't have a yard? Walk laps or back and forth on your porch, balcony, hallway, or living room.
Count your steps
Sure walking back and forth may look weird or odd, but you can still get those steps in. I know exactly how far I've walked or ran using my smartwatch. My watch tells me the steps and distance with a built-in step counter and GPS.
Don't have a smartwatch to measure your distance? You can count the old fashioned way. Get out that tape measure and measure the distance in feet down your hallway and living room. Do the math or use a calculator and find out how many feet are in a mile or half-mile. Then you will know how many laps around your living room it will take to make a mile.
Have a yard and no smartwatch? Before I ever got a smartwatch I used my smartphone to go on Google Maps and zoom in on my yard or a parking lot and used a feature on it to measure distance. Doing that allowed me to know the distance so I can gauge how many miles I did.
Use the space you have
Being a full-time trucker, I walk/run laps around my truck as I'm still out on the road working during this crisis. My preferred cardio is using the elliptical at the gym or mountain biking at home which isn't an option right now. With gym closures and everything else, I had to return to the old days of working out in and around my 18-wheeler while out on the road. I much prefer the gym though.
Another at-home exercise: Strength training
Every good workout plan should include both cardio and strength training. This can be done home but sometimes you just have to improvise. The gym has everything you need from cardio to strength training but since it is no longer an option, you have to figure out how to do it at home.
I typically do full-body weight lifting meaning, I keep doing various lifts to hit every single muscle until I'm done. Some people like to split it up to a push day and pull days if they workout every day. It's easier for me to do full-body 2-3 times a week so that every muscle gets hit at least 2-3 times a week since I don't usually have time to work out every day.
To accomplish hitting every muscle without the gym, I do a combination of bodyweight, fitness bands, and dumbbell exercises. Thankfully I already had those with me when the gyms closed. I always kept them on hand just in case I couldn't get to the gym.
The best at-home strength exercises
I could go all day on all the various ways to work out, but here are a few:
- Pushups: work chest/triceps/front deltoids
- Situps: work abdominals
- Squats: work hamstrings/quadriceps
- Dumbbell or fitness band front raises: work shoulders
- Dumbbell or fitness band side raises: work shoulders as well
- Overhead/military press: work shoulders/triceps
- If you have a pull-up bar or able to do pulldowns with fitness band - pull-down or chin-ups: work the lats
- Dumbbell or fitness band rows: work lower traps/rhomboid/rear deltoids/lats
- Calf raises: work calves
- Dumbell/fitness band chest fly: work pectoral muscles & front deltoids
- Dumbbell or fitness band rear fly: work rear deltoids
- Regular bicep curls: work short head of the biceps
- Hammer bicep curls (dumbbell is vertical like lifting a hammer): work the long head of the biceps
- Dumbbell or fitness band triceps extensions: work triceps
- Dumbbell or fitness band shoulder shrugs: work the upper traps
- Inner/outer forearm curls with dumbbells or fitness bands: work inner & outer forearms
Our diabetes isn't on hold
When the world closes, our diabetes doesn't close with it. We need to be on top of our physical health. In addition to this, it may worth reading a previous article I wrote on disaster preparedness. And while it may seem weird or funny to be walking circles around the living room or yard, it's a great way to get your exercise in. In fact, I heard on the news recently that a man in Italy ran 26 miles on his apartment balcony going back and forth.
And if you need a little motivation there are many apps you can download for fitness challenges. I have one and used it even before this crisis. My watch communicates with my phone and the fitness app. Once I hit the miles on the challenge I signed up for, they send me a medal and T-shirt. I pay for it of course but it's very motivating.
We would like to hear from our community members about what you are doing for physical activity during this crisis. And remember to consult your medical professionals before starting any physical exercise!
Note: This article was written on April 10, 2020. Further developments in what we know about the Coronavirus are continuously emerging. Learn more in Self-Care in Uncertain Times.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?