Over and over we report to you that changing your lifestyle can help you forestall the onset of type 2 diabetes and once you are diagnosed, a simple exercise program, along with medication and diet, can help control the devastating long term complications of the disease.
Let’s start with answering some questions about exercise. The first has to do when to exercise. You will burn the same amount of calories per session if you exercise in the early morning or later in the day. The number of calories you burn depends upon your body composition, metabolism and food intake, so if you have not joined a daytime exercise group, call a gym, because if you can’t exercise except in the evening, your excuse has been debunked.
Now for another reason to turn that fat on your hips or waist into muscle. Muscle burns calories and body fat does not. It follows that the more lean muscle mass you have the less fat and therefore you will burn more calories during physical activity. If that doesn’t motivate you read the following; the more lean muscle mass you have the more calories you will burn sitting in a chair, cooking dinner or sleeping.
When the average person diets, particularly when they don’t exercise, they lose weight but often sacrifice that very necessary lean muscle mass. This compounds the difficulties of losing weight and keeping it off.
Severely restrictive diets can reduce your metabolic rate by up to 30 percent. This is the reason that we stress strengthening exercises when dieting or trying to maintain weight. Exercise helps you to preserve muscle and bone, boosting your metabolism.
To help us understand how we burn calories we need to understand how calories are used. I warn you that if you continue to read this article you will think twice about what you put into your mouth. Maybe, you need to tape this onto the refrigerator of your friends on diets or onto yours, if you are trying to control your diabetes.
Basal Metabolism: This is the energy we all use to keep our bodies alive. It accounts for 50 to 75 percent of your daily caloric expenditures. The energy is responsible for maintaining your internal organs, such as keeping your heart beating, brain activities and regulating your temperature.
How do you calculate your Basal Metabolism? Well there are two formulas, one for men and one for women, as men start out with more lean muscle mass and therefore, as we stated before, burn more calories through their basal metabolism.
Women: 655 + (9.6 x W) + (1.7 x H) – (4.7 x A) = BMR
Men: 66 + (13.7 x W) + (5 x H) – (6.8 x A) = BMR
(W = weight in kg , H = height in cm, A = age in years)
To convert pounds to kg: weight in pounds divided by 2.2
To convert inches to centimeters: height in inches times 2.54
Digestion: This accounts for about 10 percent of the calories you use to process food you eat. For example, if you eat 2000 calories a day, you burn 200 of them by just digesting food. In effect, eating helps you burn calories the same way exercise does, just much fewer.
Physical activity: Anywhere from 15 to 40 percent of calories you burn comes from various activities you do throughout the day. Physical activity is the single most important part of caloric expenditure that you have complete control of. Important fact? When most people think of burning calories, they think first of vigorous exercise. But you just learned that all physical activity burns calories, so let’s begin to rethink your options.
For example, you take the elevator to work, but get up early to exercise. You are robbing your self by not walking up all or some of those stairs. How about this one? Get up to change the channel on the TV rather than use the remote. You just used more calories. Want another? Never park close to where you are going. That extra walk will also burn calories.
Now that you know how you burn calories and why it is very important to do so, let’s talk about the gym. There are different types of gyms. There are the serious “man” style where there are few amenities-not for me. I want a gym with clean locker rooms, wonderful showers, hair dryers, towels that actually dry me, and more. I want a gym with racquet ball courts, an indoor swimming pool for laps and aerobics, many sets of weights, aerobic class areas and a variety of classes, TVs to watch while on those boring machines, and a really nice food bar with healthy food. But that is not all. I want a club that is affiliated with a hospital so that I don’t have to deal with high-pressure sales people and sign away my first-born. Here we have three hospital-based gyms and they are wonderful so now I want to describe why.
If you join one of these health clubs, you will need to have a physical evaluation before hand. Those of you who read this web site, know that when I promised to join a gym at my husband’s hospital for his health, I failed the treadmill test and wound up having open-heart surgery secondary to my diabetes. No symptoms that I could feel had been evident, and I still ran 6 miles a day and played a mean game of tennis. I really like these gyms! We belong to a gym like this one now.
There are physical therapists who will help you out, there are personal trainers and there is a qualified staff to train you on the machines. You will not have to worry about hurting yourself when you use a machine properly. After your medical workup there is staff to help you set up a program just for you, and there is staff there to help you when you exercise if you have a question. Without this direction, you may find yourself wandering around the floor through different areas, wondering what to do and how to do it. I know I’ve seen that at some gyms, especially when visiting a hotel. There are sections of the hospital-affiliated gym for those in rehab for cardiovascular disease. There are sections for those who are in rehab for skeletal-muscular problems. There is staff to help them and you, and if you need a doctor, you are very close to one, surrounded by people who have training to help those in medical need.
If you like to exercise alone, you can do that at the gym or if you like people, you’ll be there with many others. I like going with friends who keep us on task, and after we finish, we can have a drink at the restaurant and go on. I also love to meet people and I can’t think of a better place. Many of the people live close by and have similar backgrounds so it’s easy to strike up a conversation with someone new.
Do I exercise inside all year long? The answer is “No.” The gym is a part of my exercise program. On rainy, cold days, you’ll find me there on an Elliptical machine or jogging on the track. I can use a few exercise machines and cool down on a treadmill. There are stretching areas where I can do my sit-ups and those lovely stretches I’ve shared with you. I want to keep that flexibility I have as I age so that’s important to me. When the weather is nice, you’ll find me jogging or walking by the river some days and other days body sculpting with weights back at the gym. In the winter, it’s back to skiing. In the summer it’s water sports and always friends who share my love of burning those calories and developing lean muscle mass. Now you know why.