Q. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes some three years ago and have been using diet and exercise to control my glucose levels. However, due to COVID-19, I am homebound, unable to attend my usual fitness classes. I am also finding that I get very sleepy after meals. What do you suggest?
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A. A healthy diet and regular exercise can do amazing things. Up until recently, your body was able to use its own insulin well enough to manage your diabetes thanks to the improved “insulin sensitivity” that occurs from physical activity (meaning your body was able to use the insulin to turn glucose into energy more efficiently). Exercise also promotes improved mood, boosts energy levels, and helps decrease symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.
For most people, less activity means less energy. It can also mean that your glucose levels are higher after eating. And high glucose after meals tends to produce tiredness — sort of like that drowsy feeling we get after a big Thanksgiving meal when we plop down on the sofa to watch football (at least, that’s what happens to me).
Fortunately, there are plenty of good options for maintaining your exercise efforts in and around your home: walking after meals, trying online group fitness classes, or using stationary exercise equipment (for example, a bike, treadmill, rower, elliptical or stepper) while watching TV. There are also workouts available on demand for those with cable, online via YouTube, or through phone apps. Yardwork and cleaning or projects around the house are other great ways to add activity to your day. And, of course, you can always put on some music and just dance! From a resistance/strength-training standpoint, you don’t have to go to a gym or buy fancy equipment. Get creative! Use cans, water jugs, buckets filled with rocks, laundry detergent bottles or any other available household items that you can grip easily.
If you enjoy a group setting or need some motivation, seek out friends and do your workouts together via video. But do find a way to maintain your regular exercise. It is important for your physical and mental well-being.
Want to learn more about exercising at home? Read “Home Gym on a Budget.” Want to learn more about managing during the coronavirus pandemic? Read “Coronavirus and Diabetes: A COVID-19 Update,” “Healthy Eating During Hard Times” and “COVID-19: Staying Safe at Work.”