"I know that outside of our current regulations and our current situation with COVID, we probably do have the time to get out every single day, but generally speaking it is absolutely okay to skip a day and take a rest day. Really let your body recover and let your muscles recover from being consistent with your workouts."-Kristin Hawkinson
Shireen: So today, my guest is Kristin Hawkinson. She's been a personal trainer since 1995. She's passionate about helping people work out safely and effectively. She strives to reach as many people as possible to get them moving so they can be healthy, feel accomplished, energized and confident. Welcome, Kristen.
Kristin: Thank you. It's great to be here.
Shireen: Great having you. So Kristin, diving right in, tell us about the benefits of exercising as it applies to someone who is trying to manage blood sugar levels. We've always heard that, you know, exercising is great for you, it can help improve your cholesterol, your mood or BP. But what does it mean for someone specifically who has diabetes?
Kristin: Absolutely, I mean, it's so underrated sometimes. And it's so important, but generally speaking, it's going to help control your weight. It’s going to help with blood pressure, your cholesterol, your triglycerides. It's, you know, it's going to strengthen your muscles in your bones, it is just overall so amazing. But the added benefits for people with diabetes are that it is going to lower your blood glucose levels, and boost your body's sensitivity to insulin, countering insulin resistance, which is so so so important. And then one of the things that I am extremely, again, passionate about is that people find this level of consistency. And so our bodies love routine, you know our heart rate, our glucose levels, our cholesterol, if we are consistent with our exercise, we end up doing it more often, we feel better. And once we're consistent, then we can keep those blood glucose levels consistent. And we can keep those energy levels as stable as possible.
Shireen: Great. Now what, when is the right time to work out? Is there an ideal time for someone who's trying to again manage blood sugar levels, when is the optimum time for them to work out?
Kristin: Sure. So once you have a meal, the best time is typically one to three hours after you've eaten because that is when your blood sugar level is likely to be higher. So when you start performing your exercises, or if you, let's say you go for a walk, and you already have those higher blood sugar levels, then they're likely to crash or to fall drastically when you're out exercising. So you want them to be level and you can, if the level below exercise is below, is below 100 milligrams, then eating a piece of fruit or having a small snack will boost it and then help you avoid hypoglycemia during exercise. So you can continue to test about every 30 minutes and make sure that your blood levels are stable. And then you know that it's a safe time to exercise.
Shireen: Now, as far as the amount of time to work out. So what is that ideal duration look like? Is there a minimum maximum? Where do you start people out? And where do they need to head toward?
Kristin: Sure, a great guideline is two hours and 30 minutes a week. So that breaks down to 150 minutes as your minimum and then up to five hours, which is 300 minutes. That sounds like so much time and it sounds like oh my gosh, am I making this massive time investment every single day? But what that minimum breaks down to is only about 25 to 30 minutes a day, which is totally doable is so great for our stress levels, our anxiety levels, our stress, and our sleep. So when we can break it down to that that is a wonderful place to start. And then once you get consistent at that then you can increase a little bit higher maybe to 35 to 45 minutes a day. And you know, I love to tell everybody to do something active every single day but of course that's not always the case. So of course, you can skip a day here and there. I know that outside of our current regulations and our current situation with COVID like we probably do have the time to get out every single day, but generally speaking it is absolutely okay to skip a day and take a rest day really let your body recover and let your muscles recover from being consistent with your workouts.
Shireen: So then going into that and you know working out outside now given the COVID restrictions just like you were talking about. There are certain places that have stay at home orders. How can someone then work out outside?
Kristin: I am a huge advocate of walking in, especially in this day and age. I think it's super important to get outside a couple times a day even if you can. So yes being outside walking and biking but keeping the you know, social distancing in mind and keeping a safe distance from other people is important. Tennis has become pretty popular because you're all the way on the other side of the court from the person that you are playing with. So that's a possibility. For sure, I've definitely seen people in my neighborhood, very spread out, but at parks doing some of their exercises, so if you really, I think it's really important to get out into nature, but you still have to be very diligent and clean. You know, clean off the equipment, if you're touching anything, wipe anything down, it is extremely important. And then something that I have really had a great experience with, and I've been doing with my clients is going on walks virtually not burden. I mean, you can be on FaceTime if you want to, but I just put my headphones in, and I call my mom or I call my best friend. And we basically are going on the walk together. But we're not walking together. We're just on the phone with each other while we're walking. And it just helps really maintain that sense of community and connection with people. If you are not quarantined with somebody else, I'm by myself. So I really love that, that, that human connection, even if it's over the phone or through FaceTime. So these are virtual walks, virtual walks, I love it.
Shireen: All right, so going from the outdoors. Now let's move indoors. So what would you recommend? Again, given COVID-19, and safety measures and all that fun stuff? What ideas do you have for movement?
Kristin: Sure. So this may sound really simple, but the goal is to keep it simple. I'm a huge advocate of just you just need to move your body. And it can be really easy to get extremely sedentary around the house saying what am I supposed to be doing. So I'm keeping it really simple here. And my suggestions are, I have three exercises that I think are simple and doable. And you can do them for a different amount of time, depending on the level of fitness that you are currently at. So marching in place, you can start with small knees and small arm movements. And you can make these as big as you want bringing your arms all the way over your head. So keeping it really simple marching in place. Next would be just stepping side to side. Again, you can make it so much more intense by adding some big arms, but it's simple, but very, very effective. And then the final one is just kicking, kick your alternate kicking legs to the front, kick your legs to the side, it seems a little bit silly. But it's actually fun, get the whole family involved and march in place for about 45 seconds, take a little break. And then step side to side for 45 seconds to a minute, and then do some front kicks, and then some sidekicks. And if you go through that little circuit of those three exercises, you'd be amazed at how out of breath you are, how good you feel. And you'll even work up a little sweat, and the best way ever.
Shireen: And so when you say, you know seeing how out of breath, you are, are you talking about targeting a certain heart rate? Or, you know, what are we trying to, for that minute, let's say I'm doing the marching in place, how exerted do I need to be within that minute at the end of the minute?
Kristin: Sure. So sometimes heart rate to give a general heart rate zone is too different for everybody else. So I love to use perceived exertion, it's a scale from one to 10, one being the easiest and 10 being extremely exhausted. So when you first start going, maybe shoot for somewhere in the middle. You want to be at about a level five, when you're marching in place, it would be similar to what you felt like when you were outside taking a walk. So that's a great place to start. And then as you feel a little more confident in these movements and your fitness level, then you can start to shoot for maybe a level six or a level seven, or maybe even up to a level eight. But you just know that you want to be able to still generally be able to talk, but you don't really want to talk because it's a little challenging to be exercising and talking at the same time.
Shireen: So not out of breath.
Kristin: A little out of breath.You can talk but you don't want to be able to talk. So yeah, you'll definitely get a little bit out of breath.
Shireen: How about movement with weights.
Kristin: Alright, so a couple options here. Now I know people might just have some weights laying around and that's great. You can absolutely use some twos or threes or fives or anything like that you have laying around or you can grab some cans of food and in this everyone is trying to stay positive. I've even heard of people grabbing wine bottles. Hopefully you don't have too many wine bottles laying around. But if you needed to because the canned food was just too light for you and you're ready to step it up to the next level. You can grab some wine bottles, but anyway, so grab some sort of even weights and each hand and then we're just going to do like 10 lifts out to the side, and then 10 lifts to the front, and then 10 lifts overhead with whichever weights you happen to be holding, if you need to take breaks, that's fine. I just think that, you know, it really kind of activates your shoulders, your chest, your back, your biceps, or triceps and strength training and improving your strength is just as important as your cardiovascular fitness. And this is just a really simple accessible way for you to do that inside. Right now, if you would like to, but yeah, I like to do, just to make it really simplified, I'm gonna break it down. So holding on to some weights, lift 10 times out to the side, and then 10 times up to the front, just about to your shoulder level, and then 10 times starting at your shoulders and lifting all the way up over your head.
Shireen: And then how many minutes should we be doing this for?
Kristin: I think that you can do three rounds of 10. Instead of going by time here, I think you can do all three of them 10 times and then do that little circuit three times.
Shireen: And then how about any strength moves?
Kristin: Yeah, so in addition to those, you know, like upper body strength moves, your lower body is literally what supports us, and helps us move around our day very efficiently. So squats are so great to improve the strength in your lower body, but also very, very, very functional. So to start, you can literally sit down on a chair, plant your feet nice and solid, and then just stand up without holding on to anything. Obviously, if you need to hold on to something at first, then go ahead and do that. So again, let's start with 10. And then if that's too easy for you, then you can just do the squat as if you're going to sit in the chair, but don't actually touch your toes down to the chair, you're just gonna do a squat, stand back up, squat down, stand up, squat down, stand up, and then and then once you're ready, you can even as you stand up, reach your arms overhead to just add a little bit more intensity. So basically, the beginner would be sitting down in a chair and stand up from there, the next one would be not standing up, or not sitting down in the chair just squatting and then standing right back up. And then the most challenging would be squatting down. And then as you stood up reaching your arms overhead.
Shireen: So connect, combine all of these exercises, I mean, starting from the cardio to the lower body, upper body, can I just combine all of these into a 25 minute session for the day?
Kristin: You may absolutely combine these into one full session if you want to. Or if you just wanted to, add each one of these little segments to a walk each day, you can do that as well. If it's more simple for you to just know you'd like to do all of them at one time, then that is absolutely effective and fabulous. But if you knew you just had about five minutes that you wanted to get something in, then you can pick one of these little segments and just do one at a time.
Shireen: So that brings me into another question. Doesn't matter if I'm getting all 25 minutes in at one time, or if I break it down because sometimes, with kids and other things going on, you get a few minutes here a few minutes there, you know, can you can you break it down during the day?
Kristin: Sure, the guidelines and research used to be very specific about it all having to be at one time. And then at some point, they figured out that we may absolutely split this up throughout the day, our bodies are made to move. So I actually love splitting up things throughout the day, if that's possible for you. People have a very different mindset about it. And I want to kind of, you know, debunk those myths. And I just think that anytime you can get any activity and any fitness in that is ideal. So whatever works for you and your thought process and your daily schedule, then that's what you should do.
Shireen: Now, what about someone who's perhaps a little bit older, or maybe they're just not as active? All of this is very intimidating for them or overwhelming, right? So what would you recommend to someone who's like, I'm not, I don't want to, I don't want to grab my can or wine bottle. You know, I'm not up for that. It's baby steps for me. How do I start?
Kristin: Sure. So a lot of these exercises can be done sitting down in your kitchen, in your dining room chair. So just like I talked about at the very beginning marching in place, you can literally be sitting in your chair and then just do the same marching legs and even add the marching arms if you want to. From your chair, you can just alternate stepping your legs out to the side, side to side and then you can just kick your legs out to the front. Just alternate kicking those legs all the way out to the front. And then without the cans sitting in your chair, just moving your arms out to the side, and lifting your arms out to the front and pressing your arms all the way over your head. They're all so, so good for you and just helps you work your body in all the different ways that maybe you would not do in your day-to-day lifestyle. But the more that you can do, the more you're conditioning your body to do the functional activities each and every day with ease.
Shireen: And when we're doing these, you know, chair activities to a specific kind of chair, it doesn't matter. I mean, what would you recommend in terms of…
Kristin: I think it definitely needs to be something stable. I'm sitting here in my chair, and I'm kind of swiveling right now. And that might be a little too not stable. So yeah, something definitely that has four legs that you feel very secure. And that maybe does have handles on the side in case, you know, you wanted to stand up and sit down and try some of the squats, then it gives you a little bit of extra support as you're standing up and as you're sitting down. I've also known some people to put their chair back up against a wall just to make sure that it wouldn't move on them as they were doing these exercises. So really, you want to make sure it's not going to slide around on you, and you want to make sure it's plenty stable for you to move around in.
Shireen: Okay, we won't go into the details for stretching. But can you just speak to the importance of doing stretches? I know I have learnt my lesson a few times where I haven't stretched adequately before after workout. What would you recommend?
Kristin: Yeah, definitely. So even just while you're sitting on your couch. Well, first of all, I just want to talk about how important flexibility is. You know, as I work with an older population, I've seen how their range of motion has just completely diminished because they did not take care of their, their muscles and their mobility over the years. So I want you to be able to touch the floor, or at least get close to touching your toes, and I want you to be able to put your arms over your head. That's so important. So even by doing some of these movements will help you with that upper body mobility, but a good one, our hamstrings get so so tight from sitting so much. And then that often leads to back pain. So that's the one I like to focus on the most. So while you're sitting on your couch, or maybe even the side of your bed, you can put one leg up on the couch or one leg up on the bed while the other leg is down on the floor. And just turn your chest and face your leg and just simply try to fold over as far as you can over that leg. And then you should feel that in the back of the leg. That's really, really good for us. And it feels really good. And I've seen improvements with people that really try to do that two to three to you know, two to three days a week is great. If you could do it every day. Of course, that's better also. And then also because there are so many back issues. In bed this can be before you go to bed at night or first thing when you wake up in the morning, when you're still you're literally laying on your back in bed, just pull a knee into your chest and hold it just hold it for about 1520 seconds. And then let that one go, and then pull the other knee into your chest and just hold it and then bring both knees into your chest and just give your knees a big hug and it just really helps to stretch out your low back and it feels really good. You can even take that to the next level. And when you have the one knee pulled in, you can draw it across your body for a gentle little spinal twist as well. If you feel like your back has that mobility and capability of it.
Shireen: I like that last stretch. I'm gonna try that tonight.
Kristin: Yeah, it feels yummy.
Shireen: Well, lovely. Okay, well, we're rounding out to the end of the episode, Kristen. I want to know how can people learn more about your work and what you do?
Kristin: Sure. I'm very active on my social media on Instagram. So my Instagram handle is trainer underscore, Kristin, Kristin is k r i s t e n. And then I also launched a website where I do programs with people online so that I'm able to reach more people since that is one of my big goals in life. And that website is trainer kristin dot com, again, k r I s d i n trainer Kristin dot com, and you can contact me through that website. And then on my website, I also have video subscriptions. And currently I have a 14-day quarantine program going on. So I lay out an entire program for you over the course of 14 days that includes yoga and stretching and some of the cardio moves I was just talking about and some of the strength training that I was referring to as well.
Shireen: Are there videos of some of the exercises you mentioned today? Are there videos available that you can see you in action?
Kristin: Yes, there are lots of videos available, but I have actually made a very special video just for the listeners today that are available on my blog at trainer kristin.com. So I believe we're going to have the link available for you. And I will be able to, you'll be able to click on that link and move with me. We'll just do the whole video together guys.
Shireen: I love it. I love it. So that link will be available in the show notes for everyone listening here. Well with that person, thank you so much for your time. We truly appreciate you being on here.
Kristin: Well, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity. Like I said, I want to reach as many people as I can and share the importance of movement in our health and our overall well being.
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BONUS – Special Exercise Video for Listeners
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