Living with diabetes blog

Step up your activity to help lower risk of diabetes

By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E. June 4, 2015

I recently returned from a wonderful road trip with my husband and one of our sons. We drove to New York City to visit our other son, stayed for four days, and then made our way back to Minnesota. I was struck by the diversity of the many people we encountered at rest areas, truck stops, restaurants, hotels, Central Park and, of course, on the streets of the Big Apple.

Like the majority of New York City dwellers, our son doesn't own a vehicle, but rather depends wholly on public transportation. This requires a great deal of walking to, from and through the subway stations. Moreover, he lives on the fifth floor of a walk-up and has no washer or dryer. That puts a whole new spin on commuting to work, running errands, doing laundry, grocery shopping and attending social events.

The bottom line is that my son in Minnesota must be more deliberate about getting the same amount of exercise as his twin brother gets naturally in New York. That's significant because, as the Minnesota Department of Health notes, "obesity and physical activity are the only factors involved in increasing rates of diabetes which we can change to lower risk."

Generally, it's recommended you get the equivalent of 10,000 steps (considered five miles) a day. There are many devices that can keep track of your steps. There are also many step conversion charts available.

Keep in mind that 2,000 steps = 1 mile; 200 steps is about one city block; and most people walk about 1200 steps in 10 minutes.

Although devices, personal trainers, gym memberships and exercise classes can be helpful, they aren't essential for physical fitness. A decent pair of walking shoes and a willing heart is a good place to start.

Don't forget to include in your calculations the activities you might not consider exercise. For example, carrying firewood equates to approximately 176 steps per minute; vacuuming = 90 steps/minute; moderate gardening = 93 steps/minute; and mowing the lawn (push mower) = 135 steps/minute.

Also, simple choices such as parking further from the store, taking the stairs and washing the car at home add up to a healthier you.

Warm regards,

June 04, 2015