The diagnosis of diabetes can strike fear into your heart. However, often it does not come out of nowhere. For those who are screened regularly, you may be given a diagnosis of prediabetes. Prediabetes is what it sounds like, a precursor to diabetes. It happens when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not so high that you are diagnosed with diabetes. Ignore it, and you are setting yourself up for a full blown case of diabetes and with it the numerous serious complications associated with diabetes. The negative effects include: problems with vision and kidneys, as well as general circulation problems that can lead to amputation, heart disease, and an increased risk of stroke.
While there are three types of diabetes (type I, type II, and gestational) we will focus on type II.
There are many known risk factors pertaining to the onset of type II diabetes. Some you can control like: obesity, blood pressure level, poor diet and having a sedentary lifestyle. Others like having an insulin resistance, your ethnic background, or family history you cannot effect. Some factors multiple your risk like age and obesity.
The simplest advice to a prediabetic or someone under a doctor’s care for the treatment of diabetes is to improve their diet, lose weight, and get active.
Diets high in trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol increase your risk of diabetes. Changing your diet can have a profound effect. Reducing fat while increasing fiber and eating the “right” carbohydrates (i.e not simple sugars) is key.
While I do not have the majority of risk factors associated with diabetes, I do have a strong family history of cholesterol and inherited the tendency. I found firsthand what a profound effect a strict diet can have. I dropped 20 lbs and I never needed to lose weight. More importantly I dropped 55 points of total cholesterol solely from dietary modifications. What is amazing is I do not believe I’ve hit bottom yet. So, see a nutritionist and start taking control.
Of course, this is a walking site and you can probably guess where my advice is going. Simply cutting your caloric intake doesn’t necessarily lead to immediate and sustainable weight loss. Your body goes into a defensive mode when you restrict calories without increasing activity. This counteracts some of the good you are doing from your diet and your metabolism slows. Combine your efforts for a better diet with exercise and you will reduce many of your risk factors. The CDC studied almost 3,000 adults with diabetes for the effects of the impact of long-term physical activity. They specifically looked at walking and compared adults with diabetes who walked at least two hours a week with those that were sedentary. They found those in the walking group lowered their overall mortality rate by a whopping 39%. In addition, those walking 3-4 hours a week had a 54% reduction in mortality rate. The numbers speak for themselves.
The single best form of exercise for most sedentary or overweight people is a low-intensity walk. Getting out and walking a few miles 4-5 times a week does wonders. You’ll shed weight faster than with diet alone and experience increased energy levels over your sedentary lifestyle. You will even experience higher energy levels than those that participate in higher intensity exercises like running. So start on a regular walking program today. Begin with our guide on walking and then as you get fitter, stronger and lighter, build up to athletic walking and maybe even race walking. The progression through the various forms of walking is the safest way to build a sustainable walking program. Your risk of injury will be low and as you progress you can either walk for less time and get the same results or walk the same amount of time at a faster pace and cover more miles, burn more calories and increase your overall cardiovascular condition. It should be noted though that higher intensity walking doesn't lead to a lower mortality rate. So the most important step is your first one out the door.
PLEASE get a physical and go over your intended exercise plan with your doctor before you start any exercise program.
Beginning a Walking Program >