Scheduling at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days is critical to maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing when managing diabetes. Overall, the American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day, five days per week.
They call it the “Magic 150.” Sounds special, right? That’s because regular physical activity helps improve blood pressure and blood sugar control. Also, per the ADA, “doing 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise can reduce your chances of heart disease and premature death,” compared to a sedentary lifestyle.
Finding the optimal workout intensity
So, this bears the question, how is your physical wellbeing affected by your workout intensity?
On many cardio machines, you’ll find a chart that gives target heart rates for working out in the “fat-burning zone” (70% of your maximum heart rate) and “cardio zone” (70-80%). If you’ve tried to hit these target heart rates, you’ve probably noticed that exercising in the fat-burning zone is more manageable than working out in the cardio zone. Does that mean you’re burning more fat by working out at a lower intensity?
The simple truth is that the harder you work out, the more total calories you burn. Using the ratio of perceived exertion (RPE), if you’re working out at a 7 or 8 (cardio zone), you will burn more calories than exercising at a 4 or 5 (fat-burning zone). However, it can get a little confusing because you would expect to burn more fat and calories in the fat-burning zone.
The idea of a fat-burning zone came about when scientists discovered the different energy sources that we use to keep up with external stress, such as exercise. From a physiological standpoint, the body uses a more significant percentage of calories from fat when working out at the lower end of the RPE scale. However, you burn fewer total calories at this level.
To give you an example, let’s say you were to take a walk, which would burn 100 calories. Maybe 75% of those calories are from fat. If you chose a higher intensity exercise, you could burn 200 calories, with about 125 of those coming from fat. The fat calories burned may drop (walking burned 75% while the higher intensity workout burned 62.5 percent). However, you burn more total calories and more total fat calories at a higher intensity.
Exercising towards a healthier life
The bottom line is that a person must burn more calories than they take in for sustained weight loss. But, putting too much emphasis on calories alone will not help. A healthy lifestyle is about integrating sustainable habits into your day-to-day life, which contributes more to a better quality of living than any quick calorie-burn routine.
Live a balanced life by setting attainable goals
So how can we optimally apply this to our day-to-day lives to maintain a healthy lifestyle? The ADA outlines a few ways we can hit the Magic 150, and quite frankly, they all build on one another:
Spread your exercise out & into sessions
Don’t go for one or two long workouts in one go. It’s better to spread out your activity into shorter periods. It not only makes your workouts easier to complete but also allows them to be more intense.
Setting SMART goals
Nobody expects to walk into the gym and bench Olympic-level weight, nor does anyone expect to complete a marathon on your first run. Developing smart, attainable, measurable, realistic, and time-bound goals help keep yourself motivated, accountable, and consistently improve as you work towards a healthy lifestyle. If you’re reading this, you’ve already taken the first step!
Fine-tuning your fitness level
Once you’ve set your SMART goals, you can start acting on them. Building your fitness level isn’t a linear process; it’s all about consistently working to become better every day. Just because you aren’t setting personal records every day doesn’t mean you’re not improving your physical health! It often takes several weeks to start seeing marked improvements.
Make time for fitness
Setting up a routine is important, and fitting exercise into your schedule is vital to your health. When planning your day, make sure to structure in some time to go for a walk or workout. Of course, make sure to pack however many Transcend Glucose Gels you need so you can always beat a low!
Have fun with your activities to stay motivated
Exercise should challenge your limits, but it shouldn’t suck! It’s crucial to participate in physical activity that not only helps you get into shape but gives you a break. Juggling work, school, responsibilities, and managing diabetes all at once can have its challenges. That’s why going for a walk, workout, or playing your favorite sport should serve as an opportunity to clear your head and focus on yourself more than anything.
Track your progress
Isn’t it great that phones have notes apps these days? It makes it so much easier to track your exercise progress. When you track your exercise, you can see how much progress you’re making. Whether you went from walking one to two miles per day or from jogging three to six, visual proof of your betterment is the best motivation to keep your mind and body strong.
As a reminder, always remember to wear your medical ID bracelet indicating you have diabetes and whether or not you take insulin when you exercise. Plus, no matter what you do, make sure always to carry Transcend Glucose Gels wherever you go. Transcend Glucose Gels help manage your blood sugar accurately and efficiently, with 15 g of glucose in a durable, compact pouch. Be prepared to beat the low!
To learn more tips & tricks for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, follow Transcend on social media!