Last week I was on vacation in California. I had the best time visiting family and friends in LA and San Francisco. We hiked, went to the beach, did a studio tour, I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, laid in the sun in Dolores Park, did lots of walking and even more eating. It was perfect.
And so were my blood sugars for the most part.
I wish I could say that I’m not surprised, but that would be lying. While I tried to control my portions I did partake in multiple ice cream outings, doughnuts, even a beignet flight. I guess my carb counting could have been spot on, but I don’t think that was it. I have to say the biggest difference was all the walking throughout the day.
I work a desk job. That means for basically 8 hours of the day, I am sitting. Sure I get up to take breaks and maybe even a walk during lunch, but nothing like the walking I did on vacation. And even though I carb count and give insulin for my meals at work, I definitely see more dramatic spikes in my numbers while I’m working.
In a study called, Lowering Physical Activity Impairs Glycemic Control in Healthy Volunteers, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researches took a group of healthy, active adults and first had them behave as they normally would, exercising for 30 minutes a day and totaling around 10,000 steps per day. During this time, the volunteers’ blood sugars did not spike after meals. Then for the second half of the experiment, the researches told them to stop exercising and decrease their daily steps to below 5,000, keeping their meals the same as the first half. The results confirmed the researchers’ suspicions: the volunteers blood sugars spiked significantly after meals, with peaks rising by 26% compared to the active days. Research has tied these spikes in blood sugar to the development of both heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
While I consider myself a healthy, active person, I know having type 1 diabetes means that my body behaves slightly different than someone without, but the science is there. Being active throughout the day helps stabilize blood sugars.
So what can I do besides quitting my desk job and getting a job that requires walking? Well there are some simple steps (haha get it) that you can take to be more active during the work day.
Go for a walking meeting or take a phone call while you walk. My workplace is great about this, my coworker and I do our 30 minute one-on-one check-ins while walking through the neighborhoods. But take the opportunity to walk and talk whenever you can.
Take the stairs. Everyone says it, but it’s true. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can gradually add up, especially if you’re going more than a couple flights.
Use your lunch break for a walk. Going for a walk midday or during that 3 pm slump can also help you refocus and re-energize.
Invest in office fitness equipment. You don’t have to necessarily buy a treadmill desk or a bike desk, there are some smaller and cheaper options available. I have a little foot pedal machine that fits under my desk that occasionally I’ll use. Keep a set of light weights nearby and do some curls during a meeting.
I know that even doing all of the above things won’t be the same as walking throughout the day, but at least the intention is there. And making a conscious effort to be active when you can is a huge step in the right direction.
More evidence that moving throughout the day can help with blood sugars: