Many recommendations have come out in recent years discussing the benefits of avoiding long periods of sitting. For those of us who work at a desk, that can be tough! While working, it can be difficult to 1) remember to get up, 2) realize how much time has passed since you got up, or 3) get up at all, depending on what your job is!
To help with this conundrum – I tracked down two apps designed to promote movement while I was on my carb counting stent (people with diabetes are recommended to get up and move for 3 minutes out of every 30!). Check out my assessment of these apps:
Move – Daily Activity to Stay Healthy (free from the Apple app store)
This one allows you to customize the frequency with which you want to be reminded to exercise, as well as the time frame in which you want reminders (like 8 am to 5 pm, for example). The app sends you an encouraging and/or Jillian Michaels-like reminder (“Don’t you dare think about skipping this one!” or “Come on, no excuses!”) to get up and move on the schedule you set. The app contains a list of exercise suggestions that you can tailor to your preferences. If you choose to do the exercise it suggests, you click a button that says “I did it!” and it will tack it onto an ongoing list of the exercises you have completed that day, complete with estimated calories burned. If you don’t want reminders on certain days, you can skip them for a day.
- Pros: Easy to use, customizable exercises/schedule, exercise suggestions, accumulating list of exercises throughout the day is motivating.
- Cons: Reminders could be a little less cheesy/condescending, several of the exercises would not be discreet in certain office settings (think jumping jacks and side-lying leg lifts – they have an “Office” exercise pack you can purchase that is supposed to remedy this).
Overall: I enjoyed this app – I liked that it gave suggestions for exercises because, even as an exercise physiologist, I do better with direction. Particularly when I’m in the middle of the work day – I don’t have to come up with exercises on my own!
Stand Up! The Work Break Timer (free from the Apple app store)
This app also allows you to customize it with a daily schedule and frequency of reminders. You can skip days as needed. On schedule, the app pops up a reminder that states, “Time to stand up. We want you to live longer!” If you go to the app at that time, you can select between options to skip that particular reminder or to acknowledge that you got up, which the app will track.
- Pros: Easy to use, customizable schedule, tracks the number of times and when you get up throughout the day.
- Cons: Reminder is the same every time, no exercise suggestions.
Overall: It worked. I enjoyed the other app more, but they both will get the job done!
Hey everyone! The American Diabetes Association just released new recommendations for physical activity for managing blood sugar and I figured I’d share them since I’m carb counting at the moment!
In addition to getting 30 minutes of activity most days of the week, they also recommend spending 3 minutes doing gentle movement for every 30 minutes you spend sitting. This helps send sugar from the blood into the cell and also improves circulation, which can be poor in people with diabetes.
Not sitting too long is a fantastic idea, but for me the biggest challenge is remembering to do it! I have heard about some apps that are designed to help you get up and move more often, so I think I’ll give those a shot this week to try it out. I’ll be testing out Move – Daily Activity to Stay Healthy that gives you specific little activities to do at regular intervals, and Stand Up! The Work Break Timer, which lets you select time intervals anywhere between 5 minutes and 2 hours while at work to remind you to get up and move.
Update: You can find my reviews of these two apps here.
So far, we’ve covered carbohydrate counting as the primary method of managing blood sugars. It is by far the most important nutritional factor to pay attention to. There are, however, other lifestyle factors that affect blood sugar and are critical to know.
If you have diabetes, have a family history of diabetes, or just want to promote health and prevent chronic conditions, check out the list below to learn about the types of things that can affect blood sugar aside from your diet:
- Stress – This one is HUGE. Stress of many kinds raises levels of a hormone called cortisol that raises blood sugar (1). It’s important to keep in mind here that stress is more than mental and emotional stress (bills, relational issues, busy schedules…you get the picture). It also includes physiological stress (think chronic pain, poor sleep quality and/or quantity, infections, illness, etc) that may not come to mind when we think of the word stress. It is important to make a priority of identifying effective methods of managing stress by addressing the roots of these issues.
- Mental/emotional stress – The “best” methods of stress management vary for each person but good options include yoga, walking, meditation, deep breathing, and enjoyable hobbies. If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or trauma that causes ongoing stress, find a qualified counselor you trust to help you work through these very real and overwhelming conditions.
- Physiological stress – Pursue the root cause of your physiological stress. If you suffer from chronic pain, discuss pain management options with your doctor (there are many options beyond pain pills!) or talk with a Registered Dietitian who is knowledgeable about methods of eating to reduce inflammation. If you have poor sleep quality, practice good sleep hygiene habits and consider asking your doctor to have a sleep study done (especially if you snore!) to see if you might have a potentially serious condition called sleep apnea.
- Physical inactivity – Our bodies are designed to move and groove. Doing so activates receptors to let more sugar out of the blood and into the cell to make the extra energy we need for all that movement. My favorite part about the benefit of exercise for blood sugar is that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking, dancing, swimming, biking – whatever you like!) can improve blood sugars for 1-2 days afterward (2). Talk about return on your time investment!
- Inflammation – Inflammation is a type of stress, so I could have included it under physiological stressors, but it’s such a big deal I felt it deserved its own bullet point. Type 2 diabetes is an inflammatory disease, and inflammation is one of the causes of the insulin resistance that is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Reducing inflammation through exercise, anti-inflammatory eating, and achieving a healthful weight can significantly improve blood sugars (3).
- Medications – Certain medications can raise blood sugar significantly in some people. This typically resolves after they stop taking the medications, but not always. For people with diabetes, these meds raise blood sugars even farther. Taking these medications is not always avoidable, but if you’re concerned about your blood sugars, check the side effects on any medications you take and discuss them with your doctor.
- Aronson, D. (2009) “Cortisol – Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet Therapy. Today’s Dietitian, 11(11). Retrieved from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml
- Colberg, SR, et al. (2010) “Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: Joint Position Statement.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 42(12). Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/21084931.
- Shoelson S, Lee J, & Goldfine A. (2006) Inflammation and Insulin Resistance.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 116. Retrieved from http://www.jci.org/articles/view/29069?search%5Babstract_text%5D=&search%5Barticle_text%5D=&search%5Bauthors_text%5D=&search%5Bfpage%5D=1793&search%5Bissue%5D=&search%5Btitle_text%5D=&search%5Bvolume%5D=116.
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🚶♀️ Exercise Physiologist