Make time to move

Physiotherapist, Saadia Kirsten Jantjes, gives us practical moves to up your everyday exercise and move.

A few weeks ago, while scrolling through social media, I came across the following quote: “If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”

It dawned upon me that so many of us wait to be told by a doctor or medical professional, “You have diabetes/high cholesterol/high blood pressure, so you need to move and start exercising and taking better care of your health.”

After attending a diabetes workshop last month, I realised how much time and effort really goes into managing diabetes. Constantly checking blood glucose levels; being conscious of the amount of food consumed; how eating different food groups will affect your blood glucose at different times of the day; and adjusting doses accordingly. It definitely is time consuming.

Add that to all your day-to-day activities, means that you have very little ‘me-time’. Yet, your doctor and dietitian constantly tell you to add exercise to your routine. So, when and where are you meant to do this?

Make movement a part of your lifestyle

Our bodies are meant to move and not be sedentary. If we look back to our old friends, the cavemen, they were hunting, dancing around fires and exploring their surroundings. Ah what a life!

Unfortunately, in this day and age, we must schedule time for movement otherwise our day just runs away with us. But it shouldn’t have to be like that. Making movement an integral part of your daily living will result in more active calories been burnt throughout the day and, essentially, more time for yourself.

Start with baby steps…literally. Take the stairs.

Skip the lift and elevators and take the stairs whenever and wherever you can. Studies show that climbing just eight flights of stairs lowers early mortality risk by 33%; seven minutes of stair climbing a day can half the risk of heart attack over 10 years; and just two minutes of extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop middle age weight gain.

There are numerous other benefits like improving muscular tone, strength and balance as well as increasing your cardiovascular fitness. Riding the elevator up three flights burns 3kcal while walking up three flights of stairs burns over 20kcal.

Get in touch with Mother Nature…in your backyard

Gardening can be a relaxing and rewarding and it is particularly exerting. Using a leaf blower for 30 minutes burns 115kcal but raking leaves for 30 minutes burns 175kcal.

Add some simple exercises to your gardening regime to increase your calorie count. For example, performing a deep squat every time you bend down to water the flowers. Standing on your toes to pair the leaves. Doing some overhead presses with the watering can. Or, if you’re up for it, add a jog around the garden or some high knees on the spot. So, not only are you working out while gardening, but you’ll reap the benefits of some fresh air too!

Move at work

You probably spend most of your waking hours at work. So, what if you could workout while you work, without having to carve out a big chunk of your time?Try these quick moves in the workplace:

  • If you sit at a desk, make it a habit to stand up every time you make or answer a phone call. March on the spot or pace in a circle to keep moving.
  • Need an energising break? Stand up and do some basic strength and balance exercises. For example, squats, desk push-ups, wall sits, calf raises, tree pose and chair pose.
  • Walk to a nearby restaurant for lunch instead of driving or ordering in.
  • Alternate sitting and standing throughout the day, with lots of walking and stretching breaks.
  • Explore your options for using a standing desk, treadmill desk or sit-stand desk riser.

These are all practical tools to get you moving throughout the day. It can also be a great way to figure out what you may actually enjoy in terms of exercise. So, that when you’re able to set time aside for exercise, you’re able to do so with something that you enjoy.


Saadia Kirsten Jantjes is a physiotherapist with a passion for health and wellness. With a second degree in Sport Science, exercise is one of her favourite rehabilitation tools, to not only rehab injuries but prevent injuries too. Saadia has her own private practice in Morningside, Gauteng, SKJ Physiotherapy while working at a Sub-Acute Clinic and furthering her studies in Pilates.


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Eating on a time budget

We all need to eat, but sometimes our busy schedules don’t allow us to. Christine Manga shares tips on how to eat on a time budgetit all comes down to preparation.

Louis E Boone said, “I am definitely going to take a course in time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Does this sound like something you might also say? We live in rushed times: sticking to work schedules and deadlines; chasing after children; and road travel as part of work. All of these factors impact what, when and, if at all, we are able to eat during the day. Then add diabetes to the mix.

Having diabetes is challenging, there are things which need to be managed: taking medication, exercising and eating properly. Adhering to these will help keep your diabetes under control. Eating a balanced diet throughout the day is vital, as it assists to stabilise blood glucose levels. This may prevent hunger pangs and cravings which can lead to binge eating in the evenings.

A regular complaint that I hear from people with diabetes is insufficient time to eat during the day. So how do you overcome this? Preparation!

Why prep?

Knowing what to eat will simplify this task. It is important that you get food from all the food groups; carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and fat. Low-GI (glycaemic index of <55) and intermediate-GI (56-69) foods are a good option. Low-GI foods are more slowly digested, metabolised and absorbed. They result in a slower and lower glucose rise than higher GI foods. This allows you to feel full for longer.

How to prep

Take time to prepare food that will be easy and convenient to eat between meetings, sitting at your desk and even on the road (subject to safety). This should help you from feeling the need to rush off to the vending machine or stopping for takeaways. Be aware when buying ‘diabetic’ products; even though these products may be sugar-free, they often contain more calories and/or fat than ‘regular’ food. They also often have a laxative effect and tend to be expensive.

Here are some simple foods that can be easily prepared and packed. They can be eaten separately or combined.

  • Cook extra dinner in the evening, leftovers can be used in salads or sandwiches for lunch.
  • Wash, cut and peel fruit and/or raw vegetables into bite size pieces/crudités.
  • Cut or grate a small amount of low-fat cheese. Alternatively, pack small individually wrapped cheese wedges, rounds or sticks that don’t need refrigeration.
  • Keep ‘Lite’ varieties of packet soup on hand, these are quick to prepare.
  • Pop your own popcorn at home, add spices or cinnamon. This is low-GI and high in fibre.
  • Buy or roast your own seed mix. Sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seed. Keep handy in small amounts. These contain healthy fats.
  • Small pots of low-fat or fat-free yoghurt. Add fresh berries, some peanut butter, nuts or seeds.
  • Lean biltong, pre sliced for easy eating.
  • Pack a peeled boiled egg.
  • Make whole grain sandwiches or wraps with any of the following fillings (cut into small manageable portion sizes):
    • Cheese and tomato.
    • Cottage cheese and peppadew.
    • Egg and mayonnaise with peppers.
    • Grated carrot and sweetcorn.
    • Guacamole and beans.
    • Tuna mayonnaise, cucumber and diced tomato.
    • Leftover meat, chicken or fish.
  • These fillings could also be enjoyed with Provita biscuits.

All of the above options will be easy to eat if you’re rushed and not able to take a dedicated lunch break. Pack water that you have flavoured yourself by adding fruit or cucumber. If you prefer flavoured drinks, stick to the Lite, Light or Zero options. Avoid fruit juice as it is usually high in carbohydrates and has a high-GI.

The preparation time will be worth it. Put very aptly by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

MEET OUR EXPERT - Christine Manga

Christine Manga (Post Grad Dip Diabetes and Msc Diabetes) is a professional nurse and a diabetes nurse educator. She has worked with Dr Angela Murphy at CDE Centre, Sunward Park since 2012.
Christine Manga (Post Grad Dip Diabetes and Msc Diabetes) is a professional nurse and a diabetes nurse educator. She has worked with Dr Angela Murphy at CDE Centre, Sunward Park since 2012.