“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – you’ve probably heard this phrase among the elderly. Taking our topic into account, we will paraphrase it on “Training a day keeps diabetes away!”. It sounds simple to prevent this insidious disease, but it turns out to be the truth, if we believe the latest statistics dedicated to diabetes. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (USA), almost 50% of the so-called “baby boomers” (i.e., people in their 60s) are prediabetic. This means that their blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (high blood glucose and relative insulin deficiency).

However, what is more troubling is that many people who are prediabetic have no idea that they actually are. That is why, they probably do not make changes in their lifestyle in order to avoid deterioration.

One of the proven ways for older people to cope with blood glucose levels is to stay physically active. Activity is not only necessary in the years when it is easy for us to move and when we do not get tired so easily. It is also important to continue to maintain our overall health. Inaction can be dangerous even for a short period of time. For example, a MCMaster University study from 2018 shows that inactivity for just 2 weeks can cause symptoms of diabetes in overweight adults who have already been at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These symptoms include loss of strength, increased insulin resistance and loss of muscle mass. Unfortunately, the sharp drop in activity (which occurs from the beginning of the pandemic worldwide) can also lead to a rise in blood sugar and accelerate the onset of diabetes.

How physical activity keeps diabetes away?

We will tell you a hypothetical scenario of how you can reach this pre-diabetic condition that we mentioned, without even realizing it, leading a completely normal and seemingly healthy lifestyle.

Long before you develop symptoms of glucose intolerance (the more medical term for prediabetes), you will first develop increased insulin resistance. When (and if) this happens, it means that your cells are not using insulin as effectively as expected. As a result, blood sugar levels begin to rise (sugar is retained in the blood instead of being absorbed) until it is diagnosed as prediabetes. However, activity can improve insulin sensitivity while controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. This is because our muscles (in each body, regardless of age) need and use glucose more than other organs.

When we exercise or increase the level of activity in some way, our muscles use the accumulated glucose for energy first, and then take some glucose from the blood for the rest. This helps to reduce the levels of glucose in the body and it is easier to maintain its optimal level in blood.

Без да ви стряскаме, ще ви разкажем хипотетичен сценарий как можете да достигнете до това предиабетно състояние, което споменахме, без дори да си давате сметка за това, водейки съвсем нормален и привидно здравословен начин на живот.

Activities you can start today

If you or your relatives are not the most active people, we give you a few suggestions that are sutiable for “beginners” in an active lifestyle.

Walks

If the idea of exercising doesn’t appeal to you, we have good news. Any activity that makes you mobile is appropriate! Even just a walk without an end goal for about 30 minutes a day is enough to feel the difference in your health and psyche. The secret is in the sequence – once a week is just not enough. Make it a part of your daily routine. The time in which this movement takes place is also extremely important. Try walking for about 10-15 minutes after eating. Studies show that 10 minutes of activity after each meal leads to a faster decrease in blood glucose levels than just 30 minutes of walking a day.

Yoga

There are many skeptics about yoga but there are many people who do not stop practicing it once they like it. Seven postures for controlling diabetes are popular in yoga. According to yoga teachers, exercise helps the body respond better to insulin, releasing glucose into cells and converting it into energy. In addition, yoga helps reduce the production of glucagon (a hormone that raises blood sugar levels in the body). Last but not least, it helps reduce stress in our daily lives – one of the main causes of diabetes.

Strength training

Do not imagine lifting weights and screaming in pain and exhaustion. First, don’t think that you will strain your muscles too much and look like a bodybuilder. This is not the purpose of the strength training we are talking about here. The only it can help you with is to get muscle tone. All you need are a few light dumbbells, rubber bands, two, three or a maximum of five kilos of weight with which you will move slowly. This will maintain muscle mass, increase muscle strength and both will help maintain glucose levels.

Nutrition is the other part of the equation

Walking, yoga poses, and dumbbells will not help you if you do not eat properly. This is true for absolutely anyone who is looking for a result in their activity, whether it is prediabetes or diabetes. There are people who think that when it comes to a disease like diabetes, diet is even more important than exercise, which we tend to agree with because being overweight is the highest risk factor.

The first thing you can (and must) start avoiding is processed sugars. Find foods that are high in lactic acid, they will regulate the production and absorption of glucose. Take nutrients that can help normal insulin function such as magnesium, chromium and fiber. The foods that contain these are pistachios, bananas (ripe and green), eggs and green peppers. Also avoid cooking at high temperatures, such as grilling barbecuing, roasting meat, as this can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Combining a healthy, balanced diet with exercise or activities that are most appropriate helps to slow or prevent the progression of prediabetes in diabetes.

We have chosen to focus on this disease, which is widespread among people over 60, a large proportion of people who live in Blocks Adult Care or would live there. Because we are aware of the high risks and taking into account that some people may not even suspect that they are pre-diabetics, at Blocks we try to provide all of the above – physical activity according to the abilities of our residents, as well as delicious, balanced food. It doesn’t take much to do this. Only awareness, a team of specialists and an atmosphere that predisposes people to think of themselves as the person for whom they are responsible, as psychologist Jordan Peterson says.

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