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Step 2: Get Up and Get Moving (Part 2)

Last time Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM had some great insight as to why patients do not lose weight even though they exercise. This week she helps you give your patients tips on how to Get moving with extra steps.

Step 2: Get Up and Get Moving (Part 2)
Get Moving with Extra Steps

SheriBy Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM

Get moving with extra steps
“Physical activity” means so much more than just planned activities. By this I mean that even standing, talking, and fidgeting use up extra calories and can make a difference in your body weight. In tracking lean and obese people for 10 days, researchers observed that the overweight, self-proclaimed “couch potatoes” stayed seated for about 2.5 hours longer per day than their leaner counterparts, amounting to a lower calorie expenditure of about 350 calories per day–the caloric equivalent of about 36 pounds a year. Thus, just staying on your feet more can have a beneficial impact on your body weight.

Beliefs about exercise have changed dramatically over the past decade, especially as so many people have begun to gain extra body fat. Scientists and health-care providers used to believe that exercise had to be vigorous to bestow meaningful health benefits, but more recently, a study conducted at Harvard found that, for adult women at least, moderate walking decreased their risk for developing diabetes as effectively as more vigorous activities. Simply being physically active during your leisure time–particularly if you’re doing longer or more intense activities–also reduces your diabetes risk.

President’s Challenge Helpful Ideas to Get Active

· Use a push mower to mow the lawn
· Go for a walk in a nearby park
· Take the stairs instead of an elevator
· Bike to work, to run errands, or to visit friends
· Clean out the garage or the attic
· Walk with a friend over the lunch hour
· Volunteer to become a coach or referee
· Sign up for a group exercise class
· Join a softball league
· Park at the farthest end of the lot

The President’s Challenge; www.presidentschallenge.org/tools_to_help/ten_ideas.aspx

Taking extra steps throughout the day will be well worth the effort. Additional walking can be added into your daily routine more easily than you might imagine. For example, try taking a flight of steps instead of the elevator or an escalator whenever possible, or at least walk up or down the escalator instead of standing while it does the work for you. If going up steps is too hard, then start with just walking down. Another good idea is to hide the remote to your TV so that you have to get up to change the channel manually. You might even think about washing the dishes yourself instead of letting the dishwasher do the work. Another good idea is to walk around for five minutes after every half hour of being sedentary.

As recently as June 2005, a study in Diabetes Care confirmed that, if you have type 2 diabetes and you increase your aerobic activity by 38 minutes per day–walking just an extra 4,400 steps, or about 2.2 miles–you’ll experience noteworthy reductions in your blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides (blood fats), and blood pressure even if you don’t lose weight. Not surprisingly, if you add even more leisure-time physical activity–such as more than 10,000 steps a day–you can enjoy even greater improvements in your health. More activity can even decrease your risk of having a stroke by at least 25 percent, even if you have diabetes. As an added bonus, the participants in that study also reduced their risk of coronary heart disease more than twofold and their annual medical costs by an average of $288.

In two weeks, I will share more tips and ideas from my latest book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight (2006). Information about all of my books, my many articles, my research, and more is available on my web site: www.SheriColberg.com.

Tip for the day: Drink cool, plain water during and following exercise, especially during warmer weather, and take frequent breaks to have a chance to cool down, preferably out of the heat and direct sunlight.

Learn more about the Steps to Health Program at STEPS TO HEALTH

See more features from Sheri Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM