How Much Should An Average 6 Year Old Boy Weight Diabetes and Exercise – Why the Connection is Vitally Important

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Diabetes and Exercise – Why the Connection is Vitally Important

Nearly twenty-one million people in the United States are living with diabetes, and an estimated 6.2 million of these people do not know they have diabetes because they are undiagnosed. People with diabetes have, on average, medical expenses that are 2.3 times higher than non-diabetics, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another study in Population Health Management estimates that diabetes costs our nation $218 billion in health care each year. However, most cases of diabetes can be prevented or reversed through exercise, weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

I wonder. What if the 6.2 million people who were undiagnosed knew they had diabetes? Or the estimated 57 million Americans with pre-diabetes were educated on how to manage their health and avoid developing type 2 diabetes?

Being diagnosed as prediabetic does not mean that type 2 diabetes is inevitable. Losing weight and increasing your physical activity can prevent or delay diabetes and even return your blood sugar levels to normal (ACSM 2006). (See sidebar for defined diabetes terms)

This is a very important point that many people do not understand – if you exercise and lose weight, you can prevent or delay diabetes.

Do you know the signs of diabetes? Take a look around you. Are you seeing any signs of diabetes in your friends and family right now? (See sidebar for common signs of diabetes) It’s quite possible that there are people who are diabetic (or will become diabetic) around you every day. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three Americans may develop diabetes in their lifetime. These statistics are staggering and PREVENTABLE for most.

What about type 2 diabetics who have been diagnosed? What if we taught them that through diet and exercise they could reduce their medication or eliminate it? What would that do to our health crisis? I know we first had to break through many myths, magical solutions and limiting beliefs. The drug companies won’t be happy with me giving up this secret either. But what the heck, our healthcare system is in crisis! Our nation is sick! There I said it. So let’s start taking some personal responsibility for our health.

Many of you who are trying to understand diabetes and take responsibility for your health immediately have several questions:

o Should you cut out sugar?

o Does your weight put you at risk?

o If you’re thin, you don’t have to worry, right?

o Can exercise and diet really help YOU?

o How do I check my blood sugar level?

And then there are the issues you may not even know to ask about:

o Having diabetes for more than five years can increase your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease

o Regular exercise can make you more sensitive to insulin, which can reduce medication dosage

First, let’s talk about insulin, the main medication that keeps diabetics functioning, and then you can clearly see the answers to your questions.

How does insulin work? Insulin is the main hormone that controls the entry of blood sugar from the bloodstream into the body’s cells to be used as energy. How does exercise affect the insulin hormone? Exercise has an insulin-like effect on the body. When you exercise, your muscles require a constant flow of sugar to keep contracting and keep you moving. Exercise increases the rate at which your muscles absorb the sugar from your bloodstream; so exercise works the same as insulin by dumping the excess sugar in your bloodstream into your muscles. This action therefore lowers your blood sugar. Once in 20 minutes a day can lower glucose levels by twenty points.

Here is a good example to explain the function of insulin in your body. Think of insulin as a bus for a moment. Glucose (sugar) is the passenger. There are two types of diabetics. Type 1 diabetics do not produce insulin (or have no insulin), which according to the Center for Disease Control is 5% – 10% of all diagnosed cases. The other type (Type 2) has insulin resistance, which means the bus is there, but it doesn’t pick up passengers and there are fewer buses plying the route. According to the Center for Disease Control, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90%-95% of all diagnosed cases.

When you exercise, your muscles work harder than usual and require more fuel than usual; so your muscles send out their own buses to pick up the sugar in the bloodstream and bring it back to the muscles. Working muscles take over for insulin and (for type 2 diabetics) they can even show the buses (insulin) how to work again (picking up passengers).

Exercise has many benefits for a diabetic. It increases glucose uptake into cells, improves insulin sensitivity by improving glucose metabolism and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Reducing blood sugar levels improves insulin sensitivity by making it more effective. Exercise can reduce dosage requirements or the need for medication and improve the ability to lose and/or maintain body weight if combined with an intuitive diet. (See sidebar for Safe Exercise Checklist)

There are many popular myths about diabetes. Here are a few that I hear often.

Myth #1 – Diabetics cannot eat sugar or sweets and the only reason they have diabetes is because they ate too much sugar. Yes, simple carbohydrates or sweets raise your blood sugar levels, but if you eat them in moderation and make them part of your meal plan, you can safely eat an occasional sweet

Myth #2 – If I’m skinny, I’m fine. Diabetes is only a disease that obese people get.

Not quite true, 20% of people with type 2 diabetes are thin. Yes, being overweight puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The most important thing to remember is that there is no atypical “diabetes” body type, genetic trait, race, age or gender. Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle choices, and diabetes is a disease to be taken seriously.

Myth #3 – There is no natural cure for diabetes. If I take insulin or insulin-sensitive medications, I can continue with my same lifestyle choices and be fine. Well there is a natural remedy, it’s called exercise and balanced eating. You can keep diabetes under tight control by monitoring your glucose levels, combining exercise with balanced eating, or using medication.

Myth #4 – I’m only borderline and 170 mg/dl blood sugar reading is normal for me. You may feel normal as a diabetic, but high glucose levels are not safe. There is no such thing as borderline. Either you are diabetic or you are not diabetic. This is a serious illness that requires you to take personal responsibility for your body. There are serious health complications associated with diabetes, especially when you stress your body with high blood sugar levels. You need to start making lifestyle changes so that you can live a quality life for the long term.

Myth #5 – exercise! What can it do for me? Among other things! Among other things! Healthy Lifestyle Blah! Yes, yes, I know. The American Diabetic Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. This is training of 20-60 minutes, in continuous sessions, 3-5 times a week. The Diabetes Prevention Study revealed that exercising for a total of two hours a week can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 50%, which can be as little as 20 minutes, 6 days a week. Take a short ten-minute walk before and after work and you can prevent diabetes or lower your glucose levels.

The fact is that over 90% of diabetes cases are preventable and can be managed with some natural means such as exercise, healthy diet and/or combined with low dose medications without using our $218 billion health care system. Start gradually and exercise a little each day until you build up to the recommended guidelines. Eat a balanced, healthy diet and lose all or nothing approach. Get educated about your disease, find out what your beliefs are about diabetes and make lifestyle changes starting today. (See sidebar Want to know more)

Diabetes is serious, but you can do something about it!

Side bars:

Diabetes terms defined

o Type 1 = Autoimmune disease that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The body cannot make its own insulin because the beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for insulin production, are destroyed. About 5-10% of all diagnosed cases (CDC 2005)

o Type 2 = the body loses its sensitivity to insulin, so that the body’s cells are unable to utilize insulin correctly (also called insulin resistance or adult-onset diabetes). About 90% – 95% of all diagnosed cases (CDC 2005)

o Pre-diabetes = If you have a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test and your levels are 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl, you will be diagnosed with signs of becoming diabetic unless you make some lifestyle changes

o Gestational diabetes = When pregnancy hormones interfere with the mother’s insulin, causing glucose levels to rise. This is a form of insulin resistance that in most cases ends with the birth of the child.

o Metabolic syndrome = A combination of medical conditions that increase the risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), high cholesterol levels and elevated plasma triglyceride levels.

o Hypoglycaemic = abnormally low blood sugar level, which may be caused by too much insulin or your diet. Signs would be: tremors or tremors, nervousness, fast heart rate, increased sweating, headache, decreased concentration or attention, unconsciousness and coma

o Hyperglycemic = abnormally high blood sugar level. Signs would be: frequent urination, great thirst, nausea, abdominal pain, dry skin, disorientation, labored breathing and drowsiness.

Do you know the signs of diabetes? Some very telltale signs include:

o frequent thirst, hunger and urination

o weight loss

o fatigue

o acidity

o frequent infections

o blurred vision

o cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

o tingling and numbness in the hands and feet

o recurrent skin, gum and bladder infections

Checklist for safe training

o Get medical clearance before starting an exercise program

o Test your blood sugar level before exercise, immediately after exercise and again two hours after exercise

o Follow general guidelines for a safe training session; warm up, cool down, stretch, stick to a Type 1 (3 to 5 RPE) and Type 2 (3 to 6/7 RPE) intensity, drink plenty of water

o Wear well-fitting, well-cushioned, supportive shoes

o Wear polyester or cotton-polyester socks to keep your feet dry and minimize foot trauma

o Avoid strenuous, vigorous or static activity unless specifically approved by your doctor

o Take a carbohydrate snack with 10-15 grams of carbohydrate

o Use identification that tells others you have diabetes in the event of a hypoglycemic response http://www.n-styleid.com

o Recognize and monitor for signs of exercise-induced hypoglycemia

o Do not exercise if you have a blood sugar of 250 mg/dl or if you have ketones in your urine

o If you have autonomic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy, retinopathy or other related conditions to diabetes, you must get a doctor’s approval before starting an exercise program. These conditions require specific and strict guidelines.

o Exercise with a partner until you know your response to exercise

o Always check your feet before and after exercise for lesions

o Drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is to take a mouthful or two at least every fifteen minutes

Want to learn more? Additional Resources:

o Live free! CD and workbook system http://www.livingfreediabetes.com

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