Aerobic Exercise and Running for Diabetics – C25K App

Aerobic Exercise and Running for Diabetics – C25K App

A low carb diet is a very important aspect in controlling your diet. However, Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise play a very important role in your overall Diabetes management. In this blog post, we will cover Aerobic exercise – specifically running or jogging.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise, sometimes referred to as “Cardio”, are exercises designed to stimulate breathing rate and heart rate. This works by exercising certain muscles in your body. Your heart has to pump more blood to these muscles that are being exercised, thereby increasing the heart rate.

Common examples of Aerobic exercises include Running, Swimming, and Cycling.

But… I have never run before!

Me neither! As I have told before on my blog post, I have been a couch potato. I have a desk job, and I have not been very active. However, I am determined to improve my health. Over the last month, I have tried several things, and found few things that have worked. I am seeing results, and motivated more than ever to continue my active lifestyle with running and aerobic exercises. I will share tips that have worked for me below.

Tip #1 – Start Walking: I have a fitness tracker (Fitbit Charge 2), and add 11,000 step each day. Before you can start running, you need to walk. Your muscles have not been “in use” for a long, long time. It will take time for your body to get used to the more active lifestyle. See my previous post 10 Tips for Success with your fitness tracker for tips on getting started with walking.

Tip #2 – Get good shoes: I cannot emphasise this enough. If you are planning to start running, you should invest in a good pair of sneakers. A decent pair will cost you somewhere between $90 to $150, but they are worth the investment. I personally run in a Brooks Glycerin (mens / womens) pair, and they are super comfortable. However, everyone is different. Go to a sports store near you such as Sports Basement, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Road Runner sports. These stores will do a free gait analysis for you and recommend a pair that is right for you.

Tip #3 – Use C25K app: The key to start running is to start slowly and build up. The C25K app (iOS, Android) does precisely that. The app will guide you through a 9-week program so you can run 5 kilometers at the end. You start the initial week with 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking. Then over the next 9 weeks, the app will guide you into increasing your jogging time and reducing your walking time. However, the app does not have a lot of tips and suggestions, so follow the tips below. They will hopefully help you more with setting the right expectation towards success.

Tip #4 – It’s OK to take more than 9 weeks: The C25K app trains you to start jogging in 9 weeks. However, you do not have to finish the program. At the end of each week, evaluate for yourself whether you were comfortable with the previous week’s performance. If you had a lot of pain, or skipped a few reps of running; feel free to repeat the week until you are comfortable.

Tip #5 – Don’t worry about the pace: A common mistake people make is that they try to run as fast as they can. This will lead to injuries, which you want to avoid. In my initial weeks, I walked at 2.2 mph and jogged at 3.2 mph. That is slow, but it allowed me to complete the full 30 minutes of workout. Towards the third week of the program, I automatically started running slightly faster at 3.5 mph. I plan to maintain this speed until I can jog a full 20 minutes at that speed. Only after that will I look to adding small increments to the speed each week until I can run at more than 5.5 mph.

Tip #6 – Stay hydrated: It is important to hydrate yourself. I strongly recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day.

Tip #7 – Take “break” days: Your body and muscles will need time to recover from the wear. I run 3 days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and walk the remaining days. This helps me to recover and not feel tired before starting the running workout. The C25K app recommends you to only have 3 workouts per week.

Tip #8 – Don’t start or stop abruptly: Warmup and Cooldown before and after the run. Suggested time is a walk at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes each. With C25K app, your typical workout will start with 5 minutes of warmup, approximately 20 minutes of walk & run intervals, and 5 minute of cooldown.

Tip #9 – Stretch before AND after your workout: Stretching before the start of your exercise loosens your muscles, making the workout a bit easier. A common mistake made by many folks is to stretch before, but not after the workout. Stretching after the workout signals your mind that the workout is over and relaxes your body. I had several days of cramps and leg pain initially when I did not stretch after the workout.

Tip #10 – You do not need a Gym membership: Many people do their workouts on a treadmill. While this works well, it is not necessary. A park or school ground is generally sufficient for C25K training. Many public elementary school grounds are open to general public after school hours. Check with the school staff if it is OK to use their grounds after hours.

Can I do some other exercise besides running?

Yes, absolutely! Running, Jogging, Swimming, Cycling, and several other aerobic exercises are perfect substitutes. The goal is to increase your heart rate, pump more blood, lose or maintain weight, and help control your Diabetes.

Results:

I am in week 4 of the program and have lost 10 pounds so far. Keep in mind that I am also following a strict low carb diet, so not all of my weight loss can be attributed to the aerobic exercises alone.

Enjoy your workouts – cheers to low-carbing and active lifestyle!

10 Tips for success with your fitness tracker

10 Tips for success with your fitness tracker

For people like me who are Diabetic or Pre-diabetic, diet is a very important aspect in controlling the disease. However, exercise is also extremely important in maintaining health and fitness. Research shows that walking an extra 2,000 steps a day could help you maintain your weight. This article will discuss about Fitness trackers such as Fitbit, and provide tips to make the most out of it.

The fastest and easiest way to become more active is to add more steps to your daily routine. You can walk to the break room on another floor of your office, or park your car farther away from the entrance. It is important to track your daily activity in some way. If your primary activity is walking or running, getting a fitness tracker or pedometer will help with this. A fitness tracker usually do more things than a pedometer, such as track your sleep, heart rate, and encourage you to be more active through a social network.

About 2 months ago, I bought a Fitbit Charge 2 tracker. This fitness tracker is equipped with a screen that can show my step count, continuous heart rate, guided breathing exercise, and track several other activities (running, interval training, etc). The Fitbit also has its own social network where you can add your friends from address book who already own and use a Fitbit tracker. You can participate in weekly step contest with your friends (or even complete strangers), share your food/water intake, and post on the network. The Fitbit also reminds you to walk every hour, so you do not go a long time without any activity.

Based on my experience, I have compiled a few tips to help make the most out of your Fitbit or any other activity tracker:

Tip #1 – Gather your baseline: The first few days after getting your fitness tracker, perform your normal day-to-day activities. This will help you gather your baseline. For example, my baseline was approximately 4,500 steps per day.

Tip #2 – Start Slowly: Do not go from being a couch potato to walking 10 miles a day in one day. Take your time, pace up your daily steps, and prepare your body for it. I started by adding small amounts of activity to my routine that collectively added about 2,000 steps per day in my first week. Remember, this is not a marathon – you want to make this activity part of your lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Tip #3 – Divide your day: The Fitbit (and most other fitness trackers) reminds you every hour to get some steps. However, I generally have several hours of my day in meetings where I cannot walk every hour. Instead, I divide my day in chunks and ensure that I get adequate steps in each chunk. For example, my total goal steps is 11,000 daily. I try to get 3,500 steps before noon, another 3,500 steps before 4:00 PM, and the remaining steps before bedtime. Find what time slices work best for you and track them in slices. Do not go too long without any activity, otherwise you will find yourself well short of your goal after a tiring day at work!

Tip #4 – Get consecutive chunks of time: This may sound opposite to tip #3, but it is not. While you want to spread your steps through the day, it also helps to have a large chunk of continuous time of walking. Even a 3,000 steps continuous walk will help you raise your heart rate slightly, helping you lose more fats. Your fitness tracker should help you track contiguous activity time.

Tip #5 – Post-meal walks are great: Yes, a short walk after a large meal like dinner helps in reducing your sugar levels after the meal. This is particularly useful for diabetics or pre-diabetics.

Tip #6 – Track your Heart Rate: I never thought this was important, but having a low resting heart rate is really important. Additionally, the same activities that help you lose weight and control your diabetes also help you lower your resting heart rate! When I bought my Fitbit, I had a high resting heart rate of 87 bpm. Today, roughly a month after purchasing the fitness tracker, I record a much better resting heart rate of 73 – thanks to my more active lifestyle!

Fitbit Fitness tracker Heart rate trend

Tip #7 – Get good sleep: Sleep is crucial to your well-being as it helps your body recover and relax. Getting 6-8 hours of peaceful sleep is necessary. Purchase a fitness tracker that can track your sleep and remind you to sleep on time. The Fitbit Charge 2 also comes with “silent alarm”, where it vibrates and wakes you at a configured time.

Tip #8 – Relax: Relaxing is necessary for your body and muscles to recover. It is a good idea to take a break from activities once in a while. Relax, take a break, go to a beach, and spend some time with your loved ones!

Tip #9 – Some pain is normal: If you were sedentary for a long time, it is normal to get some muscle aches. You know your own body better, and should be able to distinguish injury from muscle-use pain. Ice shakes can help your muscles recover from the pain.

Tip #10 – Improve your diet: A diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein & fat not only helps control your blood glucose levels, but also get the necessary fuel and stamina to improve your fitness for these activities. A good diet should always go hand-in-hand with a good activity regimen. Some fitness trackers, such as Fitbit, allow you to track your food and water intake.