More Strength: Adding Strength Training to My Routine

After establishing the habit of taking a full-body stretch each time I check my blood glucose, I decided it was time to up my move more, sit less game. What to add next?

Building up my healthy tiny habit

Going back to the process for developing a tiny habit I started by asking myself what is it I want? Two things came to mind.

Feeling better

Wanting to feel better started me on the path to get more active. And not feeling any better got me to regroup after trying a 30-day walking challenge. Feeling better is still important to me.

Lower blood glucose readings

Ultimately, the long term goal of moving more is to help me manage diabetes better. The most obvious way to measure how well I’m doing that is by measuring my blood glucose. Lower blood glucose numbers (but not too low!) are better.

That led me to the idea of adding some kind of muscle-strengthening activity to my routine.

Why is strength training beneficial?

Strength training is known to increase insulin sensitivity and improve glycaemic control.1,2

With strength training, you’re building muscle which also:

  • Helps improve balance, coordination, and posture
  • Boosts energy levels and improves mood (by releasing endorphins)
  • Protects muscle mass
  • Protects bone health
  • Helps with chronic disease management

All of this sounds very appealing. But I’m not ready to head to the gym and lift weights. And I’m not really interested in taking on highly intense exercise. So I started to look for strength exercises that would rely on my body weight and could be easily added to my daily tiny habit routine.

After a quick Google search, I came up with a shortlist of effective strength exercises. Squats, planks, and push-ups are all on the list.

Trial and error with strength training

Squats are a good place to start. They work the large muscle groups in your legs and hips and strengthen core muscles. Most importantly, the way you do a squat can be adjusted to match your current fitness level.

Sounded good. I would start with a simple squat after doing my full body stretch and build from there. No added weight, just stand with my feet below my hips, tighten my stomach, bend my knees, and bring my butt down like I’m going to sit.

Then I felt the pain.

My ankle, which has been weak since I broke my leg years ago, was complaining.

Okay, maybe I need to change my stance. Try again. Nope. That didn’t solve it.

I tried various ways of doing a simple squat for three days. No matter how I stood or how shallow I made them, my ankle still hurt.

Okay, squats aren’t going to work right now. But I wasn’t going to give up on adding some resistance training while getting my ankle tended to. What exercise could I add instead?

Planks? Uh, no. Planks also caused pain in my ankle.

Push-ups? Wouldn’t they also be painful? Not if I did them against the wall.

Wall push-ups it would be.

Revising my routine for a healthy tiny habit

Adding wall push-ups to the stretches I’m already doing seemed like a good idea. Stack the habits together and they’ll reinforce each other.

I revised my healthy mini habit routine.

Put the strip in the meter, reach for the sky then touch my toes, straighten up and do five wall push-ups.

And that’s what I did. Four times a day. Stretched my body, then gently worked my arm and chest muscles.

Mixed results for strength training

After about a month of adding wall push-ups to my routine, I checked my results. They were mixed.

I did feel better. My spine felt more flexible. I did feel tension and release in my upper arms and across my chest when I did the wall push-ups. I found I had better posture. I sat up instead of slouching at my desk. I stood up straight. That felt good in my body.

As for my blood glucose readings? I didn’t see any measurable change. I was definitely in the “something is better than nothing” zone. But if I want to see a measurable benefit I need to do more.

What are you doing to up your move more game? What kind of results are you seeing? Please let us know in the comments below.

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