Healthy Lifestyle Choices for People with Diabetes
By Carol Kutik
Diabetes can present challenges to good health; however, making healthy lifestyle choices can have a major impact on the management of diabetes. Regular physical activity and a healthful eating plan are important for individuals of all ages; they become even more essential in managing diabetes. Consistent exercise can help to lower blood glucose and A1C. An A1C test result reflects average blood sugar levels for the past two to three months; lowering A1C means blood sugar is being better controlled and may make it possible to take fewer diabetes medications and/or less insulin. Your doctor will likely monitor A1C levels over time to determine any necessary modifications to prescriptions.
In addition to blood sugar control, regular physical activity has been shown to provide other wonderful benefits, including:
- Strengthens the heart and circulation
- Burns calories, which may help with weight loss
- Strengthens bones and muscles
- Improves metabolism
- Increases energy for all you do, including the activities of daily living
- Keeps joints flexible
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improves quality of sleep
- Lowers the risk for heart attack and stroke
- Relieves stress
- Can reduce the symptoms of depression
- Can improve balance and help reduce the risk of falls
Since blood sugar is one of the major fuels your body uses for activity, it is important to talk with your health care provider to learn when to check your blood sugar levels and what they should be both before and after exercise. Be certain to have your glucose meter with you to check blood sugar changes with exercise, and always have a carbohydrate snack, such as a banana, nearby in case your sugar level gets low.
When you are ready, getting started with exercise does not have to be hard or uncomfortable. If you have not been active, begin by incorporating more movement into your day. At home, you can do house or yard work, walk around the house while you are on the phone, walk the dog (dogs love to walk!), or walk around the room during commercial breaks. That may not sound like much, but any activity and/or additional movement is beneficial. The more you move, the more calories you burn, and the easier it is to control blood sugar.
At work, you can get up and walk around the office at regular intervals, stretch or do some seated exercises at your desk, get up and talk with your co-worker instead of sending an email, take stairs and park further away when appropriate, and simply fidget more. That’s right, tapping or wiggling your foot burns calories!
|From the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org)|
|Diabetes continues to be a major health concern for Americans of all ages. According to data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014 (released June 10, 2014), 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, had diabetes in 2013. Of that number, 21 million were diagnosed, and 8.1 million were undiagnosed. That total number was up 3.3 million people from 2010 (18.1 million diagnosed, 7 million undiagnosed, 25.8 million total cases). For adults age 65 and older, the number also remains high at 25.9 percent, or 11.8 million. Alarmingly, diabetes remains the seventh-leading cause of death. That number may very well be higher, as it is difficult to determine actual and underlying causes of death.|
The potential complications and co-morbid conditions of diabetes are numerous and include: