The following is a Guest Post authored by Roli Salinas, who is a Texas State Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) candidate that has been completing his last clinical rotation with Symmetry this spring. Roli will be graduating in May.
In the spring of each year after the winter holiday season – commonly filled with the ritual eating of lots of sweet treats – there is a national “wake-up call” dubbed Diabetes Alert Day. The American Diabetes Association sponsors this event each year on the 4th Tuesday of March, which this year was March 28. The purpose of the Diabetes Alert Day is to make American adults aware of the widespread prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes, and to encourage the assessment of personal risk for this condition. Here is a link to the Risk Assessment Questionnaire. Even though the Alert Day has passed, it is an excellent idea to take the test and to know your risk!
Type 2 Diabetes is a condition that arises from the body’s inability to appropriately utilize insulin. Insulin is a compound produced by the body that allows its cells to absorb sugar to use for energy production. Type 2 Diabetes is also called ‘insulin resistance’. As the condition progresses, the body produces less and less of the insulin compound. This is then called ‘insulin deficiency’.
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and life-changing disease processes in the US today. In fact, it’s an epidemic! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 10 people in the United States has been diagnosed with Diabetes, and as many as 1 in every 4 citizens may have diabetes that is as of yet undiagnosed. Diabetes isn’t picky. In the past, diabetes was something that was only thought to affect an older population. It was at one point called “adult-onset diabetes”. However, it is now known that Type 2 Diabetes can affect people of all ages. Recently there has been a surge of adolescents diagnosed with the condition.
Diabetes affects many body systems, including the visual system, cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. Unfortunately there is no cure for diabetes. However, it is possible to lower your personal risk of acquiring Type 2 Diabetes. Increasing physical activity is one way that you can control your risk. Exercise is also a powerful way to limit the progression and effects of diabetes, if or when it does occur. Here a few motivators to increase your physical activity and hopefully keep Type 2 Diabetes at bay!
- Research has shown that even a small increase in physical activity can make a big difference in risk for Type 2 Diabetes. It has been found that a single bout of exercise daily for 30 minutes OR several bouts of exercise per day (like 3 bouts of 10 minutes each throughout the day) each increased insulin action and glucose tolerance for more than 24 -72 hours after exercise.
- Another recent study showed that either 20 minutes of mild activity, or 10 minutes of strenuous activity, or 5 minutes of very strenuous activity accomplished 1-2 times per day reduced the risk of diabetes by 46%. This was a more powerful effect than when compared to a 31% risk reduction when controlling diet without also exercising.
- Exercise can also improve the condition of people that have already been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. One study showed that individuals that followed a 2x per week weight lifting protocol for 16 weeks showed a 46% increase in insulin action, as well as a 7% decrease in fasting blood glucose levels, when compared to individuals who made dietary changes but did not also exercise.
- Physical activity can be as simple as choosing to park a little further away at the grocery store, taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or getting out for several short walks with the dog each day. Even better would be also adding lifting weights to a weekly routine, along with short bouts of more strenuous activity, such as jumping rope, dancing or going for a jog.
Any time that a new exercise program is initiated, it is best to start slowly and then to gradually progress the level of activity as the body adapts. Beginning with moderate levels of activity intensity and then moving toward a more strenuous level in a step-wise fashion is recommended. It is a good idea to warm-up appropriately before beginning an exercise session, and to cool down following the exercise bout. And if you find that you have any ailments that impede your ability to participate in an exercise program, it is worth seeking physical therapy evaluation.
If you would like further information about Type 2 Diabetes or Diabetes Alert Day, check out this website. And if you would benefit from individualized guidance about how to successfully initiate an exercise program for lowering diabetes risk or simply for improving general health, we invite you to come in and see us at Symmetry. We would be glad to help you achieve your goals!