3 Ways to Optimize Your Exercise for Blood Sugar, Mood, and Joint Health

elderly person running outside

General exercise recommendations can be mundane and not specific enough for your health goals. Though an appointment with a Bastyr clinician will tailor exercises to fit your individual needs, below are a list of three general exercise recommendations to improve blood sugar, mood, and joint health: 

  1. Blood sugar control:  You can decrease your blood glucose by participating in moderate exercise (i.e. walking, biking, and household chores) for 15 minutes after each meal. Better control was seen with longer duration (45 minutes or longer) for the largest meal of the day. For other ways to naturally manage your blood glucose, click here.  

  2. Improve Mood: Experiencing bouts of depression is common and often debilitating. When you are feeling down or frustrated, making an effort to get to a gym or participate in exercise can release natural endorphins which can improve your mood and give you the motivation to continue your day. Studies have shown that it takes either 10 minutes of vigorous exercise (i.e. you can only say 1-2 words at a time before taking a breath) or 60 minutes of moderate exercise (i.e. you are able to speak in phrases before taking a breath) to boost your natural endorphins.  

  3. Joint Health: Many of us complain of joint aches and pain. One of the best ways to prevent joint aches is to move your joints every day, ideally multiple times a day in different ranges. Joint circles can be an effective way of doing this. Joint circles are just as they sound, making large circles with every joint in your body: neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, spine, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. Make the circles slow and controlled. If you practice mindfulness or meditation, this is an excellent time to practice mindfulness with your joint circles. Moving the joints daily lubricates the joints, provides nutrients to the cells in and around your joints, and stimulates the nerves that control your joints. These are all crucial components of keeping healthy and happy joints. 

There are many ways to modify your exercise and you can be targeted with how you exercise depending on your health goals.  Movement is medicine and movement can be optimized.  If you are curious to learn more about simple, non-intimidating exercises to include in your routine, schedule a visit to Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle or Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego and optimize your exercise. 

Gino Stoppa is a licensed naturopathic physician practicing at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle, WA.  His background in health care began in sports performance and exercise science, which he incorporates in his practice. He believes patients are often packed with potential for healing without medications or supplements. His clinical interests include chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal complaints, and allergic disorders.  


  1. Borror, A., Zieff, G., Battaglini, C., & Stoner, L. (2018). The Effects of Postprandial Exercise on Glucose Control in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 1479-1491. 

  1. Meyer, T., Schwarz, L., & Kindermann, W. (2000). Endogenous Opiates. In M. P. Warren, & N. W. Constantini, Sports Endocrinology (pp. 31-42). Totowa: Humana Press Inc.