The incidence of type 2 diabetes is on the rise and is largely attributed to the rise in obesity. According to the American Diabetes Association, the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to increase to more than 30 million by 2030.
Type 2 diabetes affects the body’s ability to use sugars, starches, fats and proteins — it is a serious disease. Our bodies normally change sugars and starches into a usable form called glucose. Glucose is carried by the blood to various tissues. Insulin (a hormone made by the pancreas) must be present for glucose to enter the skeletal muscle. Once glucose enters the muscle cell, it can be broken down and used for energy or stored for later use. But, with type 2 diabetes, some insulin is produced but the body does not make effective use of it — this is known as insulin resistance and prohibits glucose from entering the muscle cells. In turn, glucose rises to abnormal levels in the blood. If undetected, elevated glucose levels lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and nerve dysfunction. While that is definitely bad news — the good news is that simple lifestyle changes can prevent, and in some cases, reverse the course of this disease.
I will take my client Linda, for example. Linda was not an overweight child, or young adult by any means. She was actively playing sports in school and taking aerobic classes as an adult. By the time she was 35, raising children and working full time took priority and its toll — exercising took a back seat.
“I never thought I would put on this amount of weight in five years,” she said. Fighting type 2 diabetes now is her main concern — the disease just seemed as if it snuck up on her. Recently, Linda recommitted herself to a five day a week, 30-minute workout plan that I will share will share with you. Linda once had a blood sugar of 126 mg/dL; she now stays between 89-95mg/dL.
I believe, my client has managed to keep her blood sugar in this range because of her commitment to proper diet and exercise. “I want to be around for my children’s children so I had no choice but to step up my game,” she said, with a flex of her well defined biceps!
She is doing great! Here is her exercise program:
Cardiovascular: 4-5 days a week of moderate intensity exercise for 20-60 minutes. She takes a semi-private session from me three of the days and gets her strength and core training in at the same time. The other two days she is on the bike or treadmill — kickin’ it up to the tunes of her iPod! Her ultimate goal is to expend a minimum of 1,000 calories per week with physical activity for health benefits — or up to 2,000 calories for weight loss. She has gradually worked up to expending the 2,000 over a period of six months. She looks and feels great, but the greatest benefit is the reduction of her blood glucose levels.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you must monitor your glucose before and after exercise to understand how you respond to certain types of activities. Sometimes, if the exercise is too intense, your blood sugar could actually rise, so it is very important to check your blood sugar before and after workouts.
While exercise is truly a lifesaver, here are some ideas to help make it more enjoyable:
If using gym cardio equipment, share the energy among the treadmill, bike, and elliptical Use a pedometer — it’s pretty fun to set a goal on this devise! For example, try and reach a hard but attainable goal of 10,000 (five miles) steps by walking, jogging or beating a friend at a tennis match. You’d be surprised how quickly your steps can add up!
Build an exercise network; Linda has made friends quickly in my weekly sessions and it’s easier to stay accountable to exercise if you have a support system of friends or family to encourage you. “If a teammate is absent, we are calling to check up on them.” Linda said. “After all is said and done, we are all there for the same cause: fitness, fat loss and health!”
Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself for your effort and job well done. Remember, you don’t have to be fitter than everyone else, you just have to be fitter than you ever thought you could be!
Gina Rolow, owner of BODY BY GINA, is a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness. Rolow conducts one-on-one private sessions. semi-private sessions, and a weekend boot camp. She also teaches and fitness at Cal State Bakersfield and has a combined 30 years in the fitness industry. Email Gina at Fitness4life@yahoo.com for questions and comments.