Diabetes NZ’s inaugural Diabetes Action Month in November challenged us all to stop turning a blind eye to the nation’s fastest-growing health crisis, be more aware of the risk factors for diabetes and to take action for a healthier New Zealand.
The number of Kiwis with diabetes has doubled from 125,000 to 257,000 in the past 10 years. One in four people is estimated to have pre-diabetes, and in the majority of cases, their risk of not developing diabetes can be improved through adopting a healthy lifestyle of exercise and a nutritious diet.
Does your exercise routine consist of just one kind of activity, such as walking or swimming? Experts recommend mixing different kinds of exercise to get maximum health benefits. A comprehensive weekly exercise routine should include aerobic, strength and flexibility activities. Here is a quick guide to the different types of exercise and how they can help people with diabetes.
Aerobic exercise – helps your body to better use insulin
Aerobic exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate, increases your breathing and works your muscles.
– A brisk walk outside or on a treadmill
– Swimming or a water-based exercise class
– Fitness, dance or aerobics class e.g. zumba, step
– Riding a bike –outside or in a gym
– Rowing on water or in a gym
– Jogging or running
– Roller skating
– Moderate to heavy gardening
Aerobic exercise helps the body to better use insulin, says Diabetes New Zealand. It makes your heart and bones strong, relieves stress, improves blood circulation, and reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering blood glucose and blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels.
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise most days of the week. Try not to go more than two days in a row without exercising.
Strength training – makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose
Strength training (also called resistance training) is any activity that makes you work and strengthen your muscles using weights, resistance (elastic) bands or your own body weight.
– Lifting weights
– Calisthenics or circuit classes that use your own body weight for resistance
– Movements using only your body weight, such as pushups, sit ups, squats, lunges, wall-sits and planks, jumping, swinging, twisting or kicking
– Yoga exercises that involve weight-bearing or resistance bands
– Pilates equipment classes that use machines to strengthen muscle
– Building work or heavy gardening
Strength training can help people with diabetes manage their weight – the more muscle you have the more calories you burn even when your body is at rest. It also makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose, according to Diabetes New Zealand. It helps maintain and build strong muscles and bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Try to include some type of strength training at least twice a week in addition to aerobic activity.
Try to include flexibility or stretching exercise in your weekly exercise routine. Stretching helps keep your body flexible, your joints moving, and reduces the chances of injury when doing other types of exercise.
– Any exercise classes that include stretching
– Stretching on your own before and after exercise
If you haven’t exercised for a while, seek professional medical advice before undertaking a new exercise routine. Start with short bursts of 5 or 10 minutes a day. For example, take a quick walk before or after every meal. Recent studies have shown this can be just as effective as a 30-minute exercise session. Then gradually increase the distance as your fitness improves.
How much exercise is enough?
The New Zealand Physical Activity Guidelines outline the minimum levels of physical activity required to gain health benefits and ways to incorporate incidental physical activity into everyday life.
New Zealand adults should be active every day in as many ways as possible. They should do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most – if not all – days of the week. If possible, add some vigorous exercise for extra health benefit and fitness.
Children and young people (5–18 years)
Children and young people should:
– Do 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day
– Be active in as many ways as possible, for example, through play, cultural activities, dance, sport, recreation, jobs and going from place to place
– Be active with friends and whanau, at home, school and in the community.
– Spend less than two hours a day (out of school hours) in front of television, computers, and game consoles
The following recommendations apply to all older people in New Zealand, but should be adjusted according to each person’s individual needs and abilities:
– Be as physically active as possible and limit sedentary behaviour
– Consult an appropriate health practitioner before starting or increasing physical activity
– Start off slowly and build up to the recommended daily physical activity levels
See the Ministry of Health’s website for more details www.health.govt.nz.
Fitbit supports Diabetes Action Month
In support of November’s Diabetes Action Month, Fitness Journal’s Mariah Ririnui attended a Fitbit event where four experts shared their practical tips on making every day changes to improve long-term health and fitness:
Nutritionist Claire Turnbull provided a hands-on demonstration of delicious summer recipes; big on veggies, balanced in carbs and slashing sugar.
“Claire explained that 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women aren’t getting the minimum three vegetable servings a day,” says Mariah. They’re missing out on important vitamins and minerals our bodies needs. Adding a handful of spinach leaves or a carrot to a smoothie is an easy way of “upping” the vege intake.”
Football Fern Annalise Longo and fitness trainer Art Green talked about their experiences using Fitbit from high performance exercise programmes to friendly motivation. They also demonstrated how to log food and use the dashboard to better understand heart rate zones and sleep patterns.
“To help break bad habits, Fitbit provides users with a food plan – an app with the ability to log daily food intake and compare it to the calories burned as monitored by the Fitbit.”
Annalise lives away from her coach so wears her Fitbit Surge while training, which automatically syncs to the online app. Her coach is able to see her heart rate changes throughout the session, and whether she is training in the correct zone for that specific training session. Annalise also uses her Fitbit to monitor her sleep for recovery purposes, important for reducing risk of illness and injuries.
“Art talked about his use of the Fitbit mobile app to challenge his friends in the “Step Challenge.” All Fitbits record the number of steps walked in a day and ranks you against your friends on the app. It makes working out fun!”
And Sue Brewster from Diabetes NZ provided valuable information around diabetes.
“One in four New Zealanders will develop diabetes and everyone is at risk. However, knowing the risk factors, undertaking regular physical activity and choosing healthy food options can all help prevent and reduce a person’s risk.”
Whether you are motivated by challenging friends to walk further every day, tracking your heart rate during workouts, or you just want a better understanding of calorie consumption and sleep patterns, Fitbit is helping more Kiwis than ever before reach their fitness goals.