How To Exercise When You Don’t Want To (or Can’t!) Exercise

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How To Exercise When You Don’t Want To (or Can’t!) Exercise

Lorena DragoContributor: Lorena Drago MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES
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I don’t know where time goes and as the day evaporates, so do my intentions to exercise for at least 30 minutes. I start the day with the best intentions, and life gets in the way. I am not alone, and while I engage in regular physical activity, I always wish I could do it more often or for a longer period. If you are like me, I want to share a few exercise mini sessions that I have incorporated throughout the day when I know I can’t devote 30 minutes to physical activity. These are some ways where you can sneak physical activity into your life.

Coffee and balance: As we age, our balance becomes impaired, and your risk of falling increases. Balance exercises can reduce fall risk even if you have neuropathy. Every day while I wait for my coffee to percolate, I plant one foot firmly on the ground while I lift the other foot off the ground. If I can remove my shoe, I plant my foot on my calf while I extend my arms out. If you are familiar with yoga poses, this is the tree pose. If this is too advanced, just lift one foot off the ground. After a few seconds, repeat with the other foot. To maintain safety, I perform my balance exercises close to the counter. Another balance opportunity is while you are flossing your teeth.

Wall push-ups (sometimes I do them while I am printing documents): Did you know that resistance training not only improves muscle mass and strength, but it also helps to lower hypoglycemia in those with type 1 and helps manage blood glucose and insulin resistance in persons with type 2? While I wait for my food to heat in the microwave, I use my body to do wall push-ups. How many repetitions can you do in 3 to 4 minutes?

Interrupt prolonged seating: Did you know that all adults, especially adults with type 2 diabetes, should decrease inactivity, such as sitting in front of the computer or watching television? The excellent news is that if you get up every 30 minutes to move (or even stand up) for about 5 minutes, it can help manage your blood glucose! Set your telephone alarm and walk around your house or workplace.

Chair Dance Class: Dancing is a fun and wonderful to way to exercise without even realizing it is exercise. I love Zumba, but when I can’t go, I do the next best thing: chair dance. You may have heard of chair yoga, but there is also chair dance. Yes, you can move and have fun while you are sitting. I came across YouTube videos, where I can just take about 5 minutes to exercise and smile. I can do some fancy footwork while I am typing. You may be pressed for time, but in less than 5 minutes, you will have a burst of energy. Two of my favorite tunes are Staying in Alive and Locomotion. Type chair dance classes in the YouTube browser and choose your favorite tune.

March in place: Brushing your teeth and washing your hands is a splendid opportunity to march in place. The key is to keep your body in motion for a few minutes at a time. It is a great way to work in a few minutes of movement throughout the day.

Regular physical activity that incorporates aerobic, resistance training and stretching will improve blood glucose, reduce heart disease factors, improve well-being, and can help you manage your weight. While the recommendations are 30-minutes five days per week, lack of time often derails even our best efforts. Trying to find opportune moments throughout the day to sneak in some movement is beneficial to our health and well-being. I always tell my husband that a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest. Small increments of exercise are a superb way to keep your body in motion.

Lorena Drago MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES is a multi-cultural nutrition education expert, specializing in the multicultural aspects of diabetes self-management education.  She is an expert in developing culturally and ethnically-oriented nutrition and diabetes education materials.  Lorena serves on the DiabetesSisters faculty as part of our Minority Initiative Program. Find her at online at, and on Facebook, Twitter @lorenadrago and Instagram @lorenadragomsrd.