Fitness & Exercise: Home Exercise Program

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Starting and Sticking to a Home Exercise Program

If you’re thinking about starting a home exercise program, good for you! Exercise has so many benefits, including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, improving blood sugar levels, increasing energy and helping you manage your weight. Exercising regularly can also have an impact on your mental health. Many people with depression or anxiety find that exercise reduces symptoms. Some common types of exercise people do include squats, Pilates, planks, leg lifts, yoga and walking.

The first step is to set realistic goals. Don’t overdo it! It can help to talk to your family doctor, nutritionist or other health provider before you get started. Getting input from your health care professional is especially important if you have a disease like diabetes, or have had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular surgery.

Beginning a Safe Exercise Program if You Have Type 1 or 2 Diabetes

Physical activity is key in managing blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. It can also lower your risk of diabetes complications. If your family physician or endocrinologist gives you the go ahead, aerobic exercise can help you manage weight and improve your insulin sensitivity. It also contributes to better cardiovascular health. Strength training is a great way to build more muscle mass, which can actually assist you with blood sugar control.

  • It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels before and after your exercise routine. Why? Because people with diabetes may need to adjust your food intake or medication.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration can affect blood sugar levels. Stay away from sugary drinks and opt for water.
  • If you have diabetes, you might need to eat a quick-acting carbohydrate during your exercise session. This helps prevent hypoglycemia. 

Creating a Home Exercise Program After a Heart Attack

If you’ve had a heart attack or cardiovascular surgery, getting exercise is important. However, you can’t just start lifting weights or running on the treadmill. It’s essential to talk to your cardiologist or cardiac rehab specialist to plan a monitored exercise program. A cardiac rehabilitation program is structured to help you recover. It includes exercise and counseling to address both the physical and emotional aspects.

The FITT Principle is an ideal way to monitor your exercise program after a cardiac event or surgery. FITT stands for:

  • Frequency - Hopefully, you’re active every day of the week.
  • Intensity - The type of heart event you had and what your physical capabilities are.
  • Type of exercise - You and your health care provider can figure out which type of exercise is safe and enjoyable to you. 
  • The amount of Time spent working out - Talk to your heart health professional to determine how much time you should spend working out each session, day and week.

Working Out at Home if You’re Obese

If you’re overweight or obese, exercise is a core lifestyle change to make. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It puts added pressure on your joints. 

Your fitness specialist, physiotherapist or physician may recommend low-impact exercises. These reduce stress on your joints but still promote cardiovascular benefits. Some great low-impact exercises include swimming, water aerobics and walking. As you lose weight and your endurance improves, you can increase exercise frequency and intensity.

To get more information on starting a home exercise program, connect with your family doctor, endocrinologist, cardiologist or fitness specialist.


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