Age is no barrier to a healthy, active lifestyle. Regular physical activity and healthy eating improves general health and wellbeing. It also helps prevent and control Type 2 diabetes.
Much of the food we eat is broken down into glucose (sugar) which is used for energy. Diabetes is a disease that prevents the body from using glucose (sugar) properly. To use sugar, the body needs insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. With diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or has difficulty using the insulin it makes. Sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. If left untreated, high levels of blood sugar can slowly damage blood vessels and nerves. Complications may develop such as: loss of vision, cloudiness in the lens of the eye, kidney damage, nerve damage, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, and impotence. However, if well managed, people can slow the progress of diabetes, and prevent or delay complications.
There are risk factors for Type 2 diabetes that can be changed:
Being overweight, especially if most of the weight is carried around the middle
Not eating well
High cholesterol or high triglycerides
Lifestyle changes can help manage blood sugar levels and control diabetes. Specifically, physical activity can:
lower blood sugar
lower blood pressure
strengthen the heart
increase lung capacity
help to sleep
control weight and more
As a fitness practitioner it may be challenging to get older adults with diabetes to start an activity program. Here are a few suggestions to get this group moving, take control and better manage their type 2 Diabetes.
1. Initiate an introduction class for older adults living with diabetes, make it fun and sociable.
2. Find out what the participants are already doing, and encourage them to do more of that activity.
3. We want to make physical activity a part of their daily routine, but it must be enjoyable, fun, and social.
4. Encourage them to walk whenever they can.
5. Sometimes, people with diabetes can have nerve damage with a loss of sensation to their feet and hands. Make sure they treat their feet. They need a good pair of shoes for walking.
6. Have them start slowly, and build up gradually. Short, 10-minute bouts of activity all add up.
7. Gradually, over time, have individuals build up to a total of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity.
8. Make sure it is FUN, SOCIAL, and it MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD!