Diabetes Awareness Month: What You Should Know

By LiveWELL Coach Chris Collins, CPT, NASM

Diabetes Awareness month being in November proves the committee designating these types of things has a sadistic sense of humor. Why else would they designate November, the month of harvesting, hunting, and giving thanks for the bounty, to diabetes, a disease known for its association with strict dietary changes in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels?

Because I don’t want to test any karmic retribution- indigestion from turkey and cranberry sauce this season, allow me to give you some facts on what you need to know about diabetes.

Diabetes is an auto-immune disease, a disease in which the body mistakenly attacks itself. According to the CDC, in 2012 there were 29.1 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes.

There are two different types of the disease, Type 1, which is identified by lack of insulin production by the pancreas (also, insulin-dependent), and Type 2, which is defined by cells’ resistance to insulin (insulin-resistant). Around 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes, with that number trending higher every year.

There is also pre-diabetes and pre-natal diabetes, but the one I’ll focus on here is Type 2.

Diabetes mellitus, Greek for “to pass honey,” was first recorded in ancient Egypt. It is a disease in which a person’s blood sugar levels are elevated to the point in which the cells of the body have become insulin resistant. With the cells’ resistance to glucose passing into the cell body, glucose remains in the blood stream. Consistent, elevated blood glucose levels can lead to damage to the kidneys, eyes, heart, nerves, and circulatory system.

All this sounds and is very bad, but there is some good news. You can prevent, control, and even reverse diabetes through regular exercise.

However, there are some things of which to be mindful when embarking on a new routine.

First, make sure you pack a carbohydrate-dense food in your gym bag. One of the reasons exercise is so effective in combating diabetes is that it actually induces glucose into the cells. Because of rapidly declining blood sugar levels post-workout, someone with diabetes might feel abnormally faint or dizzy. To stave this, get your blood sugar back up by ingesting a carbohydrate before and after exercise.

Second, make sure you wear comfortable footwear that protect your feet. Along the same lines, make sure you routinely check your feet for blisters, sores, and wear patterns. Diabetes can damage, and thus alter the neural signals between the brain and the body. For example, short-circuiting the pain signal from a foot blister to the brain, the diabetic allows a blister to fester, risking infection. The diminishment in hand and foot sensation is called Peripheral Neuropathy, and it is a common diabetic complication. Be aware of exercise’s effect on your hands and feet.

At LiveWELL, we give you fun, efficient training programs focusing on strength and energy development, through increased resistance and interval training. Enhancing your body’s movement patterns through the use of varying functional training equipment is an effective way to get fit. Having diabetes does not preclude you from a training program in the least. At LiveWELL, we offer a controlled environment for those new to training, as well as sleds, slams, and jumps for the more seasoned exerciser.

The tremendous benefit resistance exercise offers those with diabetes is profound. Just be sure to check your feet, blood sugar levels, and communicate with your coach if you feel anything out of the ordinary during or after your exercise. Also, as always check with your primary care physician before starting any exercise program. I hope to see you in the gym soon. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!



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