It’s National “Exercise is Medicine” Month!

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Michael See, MS, RCEP, Clinical Exercise Physiologist in the clinic at Joslin Diabetes Center, leads calisthenics at the Fitness Challenge kickoff.

Today we want to give you a peek into how Joslin is celebrating “National Exercise is Medicine Month” so you can see we make an effort to follow our own advice—and because we hope you join in, too.

Each year, Joslin staff sign up for the Joslin Fitness Challenge.

The Challenge has two parts: a physical activity challenge and a healthy eating challenge.

This year’s Challenge started on May 9th and will run through June

Employees form teams of six people, with each team competing to earn the most points during this six-week period.

If you take the Challenge at home, or with your own team, you may not get the same competitive juices flowing or the gift cards that go to the winning Joslin teams. But, you’ll feel better and make a solid contribution to your health!

Here’s how the challenge works.

Exercise for the Challenge

  1. Staff accumulate 1 point for every 20 minutes of exercise they engage in.
  2. Appropriate exercise sessions are (but not limited to) the following:
    1. Aerobic exercise: walking, running, bicycling, swimming, hiking, and use of aerobic machines such as treadmill, elliptical, cross trainer, stationary bike, Airdyne, rowing, etc.
    2. Group exercise classes: spinning, step, yoga, zumba, dancing, etc.
    3. Resistance training with free weights, resistance machines, bands, etc.
    4. Team sports: volleyball, soccer, basketball, hockey, etc.
    5. Court sports: tennis, racquetball

As always, people who are over 40 and/or have medical conditions should seek the advice of their physicians before starting an exercise program.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5-7 days a week for weight maintenance and 60 minutes 6-7 days a week for weight loss. In addition to the cardiac and other physiological benefits of exercise, exercise can lower blood glucose acutely and up to an additional 24 to 48 hours.

If you are new to exercise or if time is a problem, divide your exercise regimen into 10-minutes periods. You can then add in multiple rounds of 10 minute sessions a day and reap almost the same benefits as one 30 or 60 minute workout.

Jackie Shahar, M.Ed., R.C.E.P., C.D.E., Manager of Joslin’s Exercise Physiology Department, says “some patients will see 20 to 50 point drops in blood glucose after only 10 minutes of brisk biking.”

Nutrition for the Challenge

This part of the Challenge focuses on helping establish healthy eating behaviors. Participants accumulate points for making healthy food choices, like this:

1/3 of your plate per meal is non-starchy vegetables 1 point (maximum 1 point per day)
½ of your plate per meal is non-starchy vegetables 2 points (maximum 2 points per day)
1 fruit per day 1 point
2-3 fruits per day 2 points

If you are unfamiliar with the “Healthy Plate” and standard portion sizes for fruits and vegetables, check out the links below. There is even a game to get you started building your own healthy plate!

Try this at home!

Of course, you don’t need to have diabetes to get into the swing of better health.

If you are at home, you can form your own team of family members or friends, perhaps even form a team at work. Or if no team is available, compete against yourself. Set yourself a goal of a number of points you want to accumulate each week and see if you can best it.

Again, please remember: people who are over 40 and/or have medical conditions should seek the advice of their physicians before starting an exercise program.

We’ll keep blogging about the Challenge, and the rivalry among the Joslin teams, during the next month. Even more importantly, we’d love to hear from all of you who decide to take the challenge.

Six weeks to more physical activity and healthier eating!

Can you meet the challenge?

2 Responses to It’s National “Exercise is Medicine” Month!

  1. Kimberly says:

    I am so excited to see that Joslin enforces the principles it endorses, not just to its patients, but also to its staff.

    As someone with a family history of diabetes, I really appreciate how easy your Fitness Challenge makes healthy living. Clearly, your community approach explains why your facility is so well-regarded.

    Thank you for showing our communities that being proactive about how we use our bodies and how we feed them is just as instrumental to wellness as traditional medicine.


  2. joslin reply says:

    Thank you Kimberly for your kind comments. Joslin is interested in the community’s health as well as that of our patients.

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