November 1st marks the start of American Diabetes Month, which draws nationwide attention to a disease that affects far too many. According to the Centers for Disease Control (the CDC), “more than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes.”1 What may even be more alarming is the fact that “one in four people with diabetes [doesn’t even] know he or she has it.” 2 This opens the door to many questions: Why is this? What is diabetes? What can we do to help prevent it?
Diabetes: A Deeper Look
If you feel like diabetes isn’t a health issue you have to worry about, you may be incorrect. More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults are considered prediabetic.3 That equates to roughly 86 million American adults. When you consider the fact that 29 million have already been diagnosed, and 86 million are on the borderline, that’s about 115 million Americans that are struggling with blood sugar levels. However, the diabetes epidemic isn’t just confined to the U.S. About 11 million Canadians are living with the disease or are considered pre-diabetic.4
The American Diabetes Association shares some common diabetes symptoms5:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
If you notice yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, or you have an increased risk of diabetes due to family history, consult your doctor or local physician. It never hurts to be proactive and get tested. In fact, the earlier you recognize the signs, the sooner you can begin making healthy changes, which may help save your life.
Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, typically affects children and young adults and continues into adulthood. This type of diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce insulin, and insulin is necessary to help get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Insulin therapy can help with this.
Type 2 diabetes is when the body causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. This is also known as hyperglycemia. This is the most common form of diabetes. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the body struggles with insulin resistance. While the pancreas attempts to make extra insulin to make up for it, over time it is unable to keep up, and the body’s insulin levels can’t keep the blood glucose at normal levels.
It’s Not Too Late
The good news is diabetes is not the end all – though that’s not to say it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Diabetes can be managed through a healthy change in diet, physical activity, and the use of medications that help regulate and lower blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic or were recently diagnosed with diabetes and want more information after consulting with your physician, check out the extremely helpful Food & Fitness tips shared by the American Diabetes Association. You may also want to look into investing into a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), FDA approved, which tracks your blood sugar levels both day and night. Readings are collected every 5 to 15 minutes and the device helps you stay up-to-date on your blood sugar levels. The data collected can better help its users manage their condition. Some monitors still require a finger stick to help the monitor stay accurate. The best way to find what’s right for you is to consult your doctor or physician.
How Physical Activity Helps
Exercise of any form helps reduce your risk for diabetes, and can help reduce symptoms in those who already have it. That’s right, exercise of any form! The key is movement. Keep your body moving. Staying active helps burn calories and keeps the body feeling good. No, you don’t have to run a marathon, or climb to the top of Mount Hood in Oregon (but hey, those could be future goals) — start with little exercises you enjoy. Do you not really enjoy the thought of exercising? Well, did you know that taking the dog for a walk counts? Walking through the mall counts, pushing your child on the swing counts, and even household chores like painting a room, or raking the leaves counts!
If you feel like stepping up your physical fitness game, try an aerobics class.* LA Fitness offers plenty of Group Fitness classes, all varying in exercises types, some of which cover cardio, while others work on strength training – some even cover both! Find a class that fits you and your personality here. A quick reminder you may find helpful is this: You’re not in this alone. Have friends and family join you at the gym. Establish a network that is going to help positively influence your life. Fitness starts with you, but can spread like wildfire among those you associate with.
You can take steps to take control of your health. Never forget that.
Feel like committing today to a new and healthy life? Share it with our community, here! Who knows, you could be the next LA Fitness Member Spotlight success story. We believe in you, now are you ready to believe in yourself?
*Class offerings vary by facility.
- “Diabetes Latest.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 June 2014, www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/.
- “About Diabetes.” Canadian Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes.
- “Diabetes Symptoms.” American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/symptoms/?loc=db-slabnav.