The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Another 57 million — about a fourth of U.S. adults — have pre-diabetes, which means their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Janey Walker, owner of Get In Shape For Women in Marietta, says those who are diabetic and pre-diabetic will especially benefit from exercise and an active lifestyle.
“(Exercise) clears out some of the fat stored in cells and this helps the cells respond better to insulin,” Walker said. “Any kind of exercise is good.’
Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. It can lead to complications ranging from hypertension and blindness to stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. Type 2 diabetes — the disease’s most common form — is preventable.
“The Get In Shape For Women results-oriented system focuses on a four part transformation model that includes weight training, cardio, nutrition support and accountability,” said Jennifer Spann, health and fitness expert at Get In Shape For Women in Marietta. “All of these elements are critical in combating the onset of Type 2 diabetes and preventing serious health complications.”
Spann has tips for reducing the risk of developing diabetes. For diabetics, these guidelines can help stave off serious health risks and reverse current symptoms in the long term.
* Develop healthy eating habits. Poor diet is one of the main contributors to Type 2 diabetes: sweets, sodas, and greasy, over-processed fast food and packaged snacks are not the foundation of a healthy diet, but they are rapidly becoming American staples. Replace your fast-food diet with one rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains (think brown rice and whole-wheat bread), lean protein like chicken and fish, beans, and low-fat dairy products. Sweets are acceptable in moderation, but they should be a special treat. Get In Shape For Women recommends one “free” day each week for snacks and adherence to a healthy, balanced diet all other days. In addition, replace sodas and other high-calorie beverages with water, tea, and other low-calorie options. Plenty of water is also recommended because it can help flush out excess waste and keep the body and skin healthy.
* Be active. Set aside some time each day to get exercise. Over time, build up the length and intensity of the workout to keep the body guessing and increase the amount of calories burned. For example, after a month of brisk walking, consider adding in a few one-minute jogging intervals, or incorporate strength training into your routine. The Diabetes Prevention Program, a major study of prediabetic patients originally published in 2002, showed that just 30 minutes of activity five times a week helped prevent or delay type 2 diabetes — and helped patients lose weight, too.
* Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight greatly increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes and related conditions including hypertension, heart disease and stroke. More calories must be burned than consumed. This should be done through a combination of diet and exercise. A good rule of thumb is to aim for losing one-half to two pounds per week, with more weight loss in the first two weeks. Use a food journal or smartphone app to track your food and calorie intake, and fit in moderate exercise on most days of the week.
* Relax. Life is full of little stressors. Between kids, work, bills and everything else you have to manage on a daily basis, it can be hard to stay on track and develop positive habits. Find a way to de-stress: whether it’s by joining a gym, meditating at home or just getting more sleep, finding a balance is crucial to developing — and sticking with — a healthier lifestyle.