How Integrating Movement Helps Manage Diabetes
Last weekend I spoke at a diabetes conference about how my Dexcom Continuous Glucose monitor (a sensor that continually reads my blood glucose levels) has impacted how I manage by diabetes. I think it is always good for a little retrospective analysis to recognize how impactful the things you do on a daily or weekly basis can really affect your life and your health. For my presentation, I examined the last year to explain quantitatively and qualitatively how important it is to me to have this device, which helps me to have better management of my disease. Importantly, it also gives me context to what is going on with my body and how seemingly minor factors can really affect my blood sugar levels.
I have noticed that it is usually the little cumulative things that make the biggest impact. In regards to my diabetes, this means routinely, through the day checking my blood glucose reading and making minor tweaks to my insulin pump or to my activity. This also helped me realize how much integrating movement into my daily work life has affected my diabetes management.
So a little bit of background about me
I was diagnosed ten years ago with Type 1 Diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks all the insulin producing cells in your body. Insulin is a hormone that breaks down glucose in your body. Since my body no longer produces insulin, I need to supplement, which I do with an insulin pump. This pump provides me with insulin throughout the day and for my meals.
Additionally, diabetes affects two-thirds of Canadians and about 10 percent of those suffer from Type 1 Diabetes. I do believe that the following advice can be applied to all diabetics. Here are some specific items that I personally utilize to help keep my sugars in check.
Offices are trending towards becoming more mobile. With the introduction of smartphones to the office, over the last couple of years more business tools are becoming cloud-based. This allows offices to be more mobile which makes treadmills and treadmill desks a great addition to an office.
Not only does walking help to drop my sugars, but it also gets my blood flowing and helps energize me for the rest of the day. I just grab my laptop and work on the treadmill using the WalkTop. It is really stable and allows me to walk and work!
These are one of my favourite items and I really think they should be used by everyone at the office. These bad boys are low impact (great for the joints) and are whisper quiet. But the best part about them is how they have prevented high glucose. I really struggle with late afternoon spikes in my blood glucose, I hop on these and adjust the resistance so that there is some greater resistance, but not too much so that it feels I am walking in mud. This seems to have the maximum impact on my body so that my sugars start to stabilize and go back down into range. For all diabetics, keeping their sugars in range is of the utmost importance, and apart from insulin (or other medications), desk pedals are one of the most effective ways to drop your current blood glucose.
This is another awesome product that I like to use. It allows me to add some extra movement while using my standing desk and also lets me practice my balance as well. When I balance on it at my desk, it activates more of my core muscles and my leg muscles. This helps to burn calories and keep your blood sugars in check. Balance Boards are a really fun product to use and I also find it helps me concentrate on my work.
Some other helpful hints
Drink water and keep hydrated! Coffee is a diuretic, and offices are generally dry. Drinking extra water during the day will help you flush excess sugar from your system. If you’re hydrated, you will see fewer spikes in your blood sugars and it can help keep your sugars a bit lower!
Also, keep a handle on your stress. Stress releases cortisol which releases additional hormones that will raise your blood sugars. Managing your stress with healthy breaks from work and with exercise will also keep your sugars in range.
Stay happy and healthy.