Do you dread going to the gym to workout for what seems like hours on end? Even worse, you are a diabetic and you don’t have energy to workout. Not to mention that adding a gym trip to your morning routine, or after a long day of work can be difficult to do. Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend just a few minutes and get all those health benefits?
You are in luck, because research is showing that short periods of higher intensity activity throughout the day can do just that.
Researchers published a study in the European journal Diabetologia that is very promising for diabetics. In fact, just a few quick high intensity workouts throughout the day actually controls blood sugar better than longer workouts. These high intensity sessions done before meals were found to be specifically better for diabetics than one daily 30 minute session.
The idea is to take those moments of downtime we have during the day and squeeze in a quick workout.
Best case scenario
If you are serious about reversing diabetes with exercise then don’t totally eliminate longer duration exercise. For example walking after a meal is a proven blood sugar stabilizer. Add short, more intense moves in as a pre-meal way to get heart rate up and burn some blood sugar before the upcoming meal.
Hight Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is a form of exercise that alternates short periods of intense exercise with recovery periods. It does not have to be only done in classes at gyms. In fact, it can easily be done solo anywhere, by anyone. No equipment is required to get a HIIT workout in either.
HIIT has the following benefits that all diabetics need:
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Improved blood pressure
- Positive effects on cholesterol
- Decreased abdominal fat
- Promotes weight loss
Make sure it is safe
We are not all in the same boat from a health standpoint. Before you jump right into HIIT, check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you given your situation.
On the other hand remember not all HIIT workouts are for elite athletes. As you will see with the exercises below, HIIT can be scaled for all levels and abilities. Also, remember to take it slow when starting out. If you are very sedentary that might mean starting with 1 minute per day and build from there.
Work It In to Downtime
If you think about how much time you spend on other activities you will see there is time to squeeze some HIIT into your day.
Giving up just a few minutes of phone time before each meal can pay huge dividends. Pencil it into your calendar just like you do your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start out with a minute and work your way up to 5 to 10 minutes.
Just like with any goal you should measure your HIIT sessions. As you track the number of reps or rounds you get in per minute you will be amazed at how much you improve. Seeing this progress will give you a mental boost you need to keep going.
Set a day each month to measure progress made. On your testing day, see how many rounds or reps you do of a particular exercise. Write that down and keep track to compare it against the previous month.
Make sure you do testing on day 1 of starting the HIIT because the improvement will be dramatic.
You can select one exercise to do per day, or switch it up and do two or three different exercises. Again, try to do these before breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For each set you do there is 30 to 60 seconds of work and then 30 to 60 seconds of recovery. Repeat each set as many times as you can with a goal of 3-4 times.
Example: 30 seconds of mountain climbers, then 30 seconds of rest… repeat x 2, before lunch.
Exercises To Choose From
- Mountain climbers
Get into a pushup position on your hands and toes. Alternate pulling your legs in toward your chest. As you pull one knee in, the other leg moves back to the starting position.
Squat down, place your hands on the ground, and jump your legs and feet back into a plank position. Then, jump your legs forward and return to a squat position. Then, jump into the air with your arms over your head to complete the rep.
3. Squat jumps
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and sink your hips down and back into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then jump into the air and land softly back in a squat position.
4. Bear crawls
Get into a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Brace your core and slightly lift your knees off the ground. Move your right hand and left foot forward at the same time, placing them back on the ground about a foot in front of where they were. Continue moving forward by moving the left hand and right foot, and then alternating back and forth. Do not rotate your hips or spine throughout the movement.
5. Upright rows
For this exercise you can use dumbbells, a barbell, resistance bands or even something around the house for weight. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, resting your hands on the front of your thighs. Pull the handles up toward your chin, about chest height, so your elbows are facing out and up at the top of the move. Make sure your core is engaged and your back is straight.
6. Plank walk
Start in a high plank position, keeping your ears, hips, knees and heels in a straight line. With minimal movement or rotation, drop down to your right forearm, followed by the left. While maintaining a tight midsection, return to the high plank, one arm at a time. To make this move easier, it can also be performed from your knees.
7. Single leg deadlift
Stand tall and shift your weight to one leg. Lift your opposite foot behind you, slightly off the ground. Hinge at your hips, lower your chest and extend your arms out in front, trying to touch the ground in front of you. Extend your hips forward to return to standing, and drive your extended knee up and in toward your chest. Stay balanced & try not to set the other foot down unless you have to. To improve your form and reduce stress on your back, limit your range of motion.
8. Lateral skater jumps
Stand tall and shift your weight to your left leg. Push through the ground with your left foot and leap laterally to the right, immediately bending at your right knee and hip to absorb the landing. Simultaneously reach your left leg behind your body and tap it to the floor for stability. Repeat by pushing off your right leg and landing on your left. To make this move easier, remove the jump and simply step and curtsey to each side.
9. High knees in place
Run in place bringing knees up toward chest while using arms to maintain running form. Land softly on your toes and bring the other knee up as high as you can. Stand upright and focus on something higher up on the wall across the room to help maintain balance.
Don’t overdo it!
Especially when starting out try to do a few minutes prior to meals. You can build up from there especially since you will be measuring your results. You may find an every other day routine alternating with a short walk on non HIIT days is a good way to keep from overdoing it.
The great thing is you can rotate through the workouts above and not get bored or burnt out doing the same thing over and over.
- Breakfast: 2 sets of mountain climbers
- Lunch: 2 sets of high knees
- Dinner: 2 sets of lateral skater jumps, 2 sets of burpees
Total time spent: 8-10 minutes depending on how long your sets are.
- Breakfast: 5 minute walk
- Lunch: push ups x 2 sets 30 seconds each on knees or regular
- Dinner: Clean house for 10 minutes
The bottom line
The excuses literally go out the window with impressive blood sugar results in such a small timeframe. Exercise paired with a step by step system to tackle the other struggles that go along with prediabetes and type 2 will have you on your way to reversing this disease.