Whether you want to “step up your game” in the workplace (maintaining productivity, clear communication with colleagues, meeting deadlines, etc.) or with your own physical fitness (nutritional discipline, increasing exercise frequency, daily meditation and more), you must have stamina to maintain a certain level of physical and/or mental activity. Stamina is a trained sustainable level of endurance that can be improved upon or increased.
Self-care is the element of stamina that allows us to continue diligently for hours, days, weeks, months and years toward our long-term personal and professional goals. Without it, we achieve limited results in our endeavors and leave ourselves feeling depleted and lethargic. The momentum necessary to move forward in any aspect of our lives requires movement. To sustain any level of short or long-term progress, we must fuel the system. Exercise is the fuel of the body, providing energy, stamina, hormonal regulation and mood enhancement, and is an invaluable tool for us to be able to “step up” to the task at hand.
Exercise that moderately increases your heart rate, raises your core body temperature and is slightly above your current challenge level can provide innumerable benefits to your system, including:
• improved blood circulation to the body and brain;
• improved focus and concentration;
• increased energy levels;
• improved mood and adaptability;
• enhanced creativity; and
• reduced pain and tension in joints and muscles.
To fuel your body and sustain your focus for the day, try these simple exercises at your desk or at home.
Begin by standing with your hands on your desk or flat on a wall. Walk your feet back so your body is angled, but keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists (like an upright plank/push up position). Begin to lift one knee toward the chest, and then quickly switch to lifting the other knee up, minimizing the time between both feet being on the floor at the same time. Continue to switch, bringing the knees up as high as you can for either 30 to 45 seconds, or 30 to 45 lifts of each leg.
Sitting at the front edge of your chair, place the heels of your feet on the floor beneath you (curling the toes back towards your shins—dorsiflexion). Sit up straight in your spine, not collapsing in the lower back. Slightly decline back so you are now reclined at an angle with a long spine. Begin to lift one knee up while reaching the opposite elbow towards the knee. Gently tap the heel back down as you switch to the other side. Begin to transition more quickly, minimizing the time each foot is on the floor. Continue for 30 to 45 seconds or 30 lifts on each leg.
Stand within arm’s reach of a door, wall, chair or desk. Take one leg behind you, only far enough that you can press the heel down on the floor and both feet are flat, but far enough that your balance is challenged. Think of standing on a tightrope. Begin to shift your weight forward onto the front heel, dragging the back toe lightly forward (keeping all your weight on the front heel). Then begin to fluidly lift the leg that was behind forward and up, bending the knee and reaching the opposite elbow to the lifted knee. With control, step the lifted leg back, and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions on one side before switching to other side.
Want to learn more about exercising with diabetes? Read “Add Movement to Your Life,” “The Health Benefits of Walking,” and “Picking the Right Activity to Meet Your Fitness Goals.”