5 Exercise Apps to Help you Achieve Your New Year Health Goals

Regular exercise is a key part of diabetes management but making it happen isn’t always easy. We’ve all felt bored, lazy or just too busy to schedule in time to exercise, especially when there’s no one to monitor whether we show up to the gym or cycle to work.

This is where your smartphone comes in. With the right apps, you can turn your phone into your very own personal trainer to help keep you accountable to your fitness goals. Out following pick of the top fitness apps will help to keep you on track – and, even better, they’re ideal for people with diabetes.

Rise & Recharge (iPhone, Android)

Sitting is the new smoking, especially for people diagnosed with or at risk of developing diabetes.

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, long periods of sedentary time increases the risk of diabetes by 91 per cent[2]. And for people with diabetes, sedentary behaviour can have a negative effect on blood glucose levels.

Thankfully however, a pilot study by the American Cancer Society found that smartphone reminders which prompt us to get moving, may help to reduce sedentary behaviour by as much as 25 minutes each day[3].

The Rise & Recharge app, developed by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, sends alerts to remind you to move around at selected intervals[4]. “We’re looking to not sit for more than 30 minutes. That’s the case for general health, but also more specifically for blood glucose management,” says exercise physiologist Mark Simpson.

Swap It Don’t Stop It (iPhone)

When it comes to changing not-so-healthy ways in order to better manage diabetes, forget about willpower and motivation. Research shows that developing healthy habits that you do without thinking, is the real key to changing behaviour for good.

The Swap It Don’t Stop It app, developed by the Department of Health, allows you to choose from a range of healthy swaps like getting off the bus early and walking the rest of the way (instead of staying on until your stop), or swapping a coffee catch-up with friends, for a walk around the neighborhood. The great thing is, you can even choose your own swaps. Set up alerts to remind you when it’s time to make a swap and those new healthy behaviours will soon become habit.

Runkeeper (iPhone, Android)

 Regular aerobic exercise – walking, jogging, running, swimming and anything else that gets your heart rate up – is a must for anyone with diabetes in order to help manage blood glucose levels. “To improve insulin sensitivity, we recommend about 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise without more than two days off in a row,” says Mark.

Simpson recommends the runkeeper app, in order to keep track of your aerobic workouts, set goals, follow a plan and monitor your progress. It will give you a clear view of your training in real time, track distance or pace, and allow you to create personalised routines that fit in with your busy schedule. 

The Scientific 7-minute Workout (web)

The benefits of exercise for people with diabetes – that is, increased insulin sensitivity – only last for 24 to 72 hours after a workout, so it’s best to complete shorter sessions more often. If fitting in exercise more than once a day or every second day is tricky, one of the most effective strategies is high intensity interval training (HIIT), as it provides similar fitness benefits to a continuous aerobic workout (like a long walk or jog) in a much shorter period of time[9].

The Scientific 7-minute Workout is based on an article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal[10] that identified 12 exercises that can be done with a body weight, a chair and a wall – as part of a HIIT workout. Developed by The New York Times, you simply download the app and follow the movements on the screen. Be warned that even though this workout is short, they don’t call it intensity for nothing!

Movez (iPhone, Android)

Incidental activity is the exercise we enjoy during daily activities, often without even noticing. Everything from walking to the train station to taking the stairs in the office or keeping up with your kids or grandkids counts as incidental exercise, and for people with diabetes, it’s a great way to do more exercise, more often – and reduce your sedentary time.

The Moves app automatically records any walking, cycling and running you do. You can view the distance, duration and steps for each activity and tally your movement each day. Best of all, the app is always on so there’s no need to start and stop it. “To get the most out of incidental exercise try to get more than 10,000 steps per day,” says Mark.

 

References

[2] http://annals.org/aim/article/2091327/sedentary-time-its-association-risk-disease-incidence-mortality-hospitalization-adultshttp://www.diabeticlifestyle.com/get-fit/motivation/connection-between-sitting-diabetes

[3] http://pressroom.cancer.org/SmartphoneSedentary2016

[4] http://www.riserecharge.com/about.html

[9] http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf

[10] http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2013/05000/HIGH_INTENSITY_CIRCUIT_TRAINING_USING_BODY_WEIGHT_.5.aspx, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/?_r=1

 

Mark Simpson is an accredited Exercise Physiologist at Pace Health Management. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the view of Sanofi.
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