So, what's the answer to living well?
It's simple really: Become physically fit. Late-breaking studies show that 90 minutes of weekly exercise alone reduces insulin resistance, independently of calorie restriction and/or weight loss in middle-aged men with prediabetes. Furthermore, diabetic participants in studies conducted by the Pritikin Longevity Centers who followed diets that were higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates, but very low in refined sugar, cholesterol, fat, and salt, and engaged in 30 minutes or more of daily exercise experienced remarkable results in only three weeks. Almost 75 percent of participants who had been taking oral medications to control blood sugars were able to discontinue them, and close to 40 percent on insulin injections were also able to control their blood glucose levels without any extra insulin. Although modest weight loss resulted from their change in lifestyle, their post-program body fatness was far from ideal after only three weeks, yet their diabetes control vastly improved.
Even if just to prolong your life, becoming physically fit is more than worth it, but there are numerous other reasons to do so. Being regularly active can reduce your risk of certain cancers (e.g., colon, prostate, and breast), help lower your blood pressure, prevent and reverse heart disease, reduce depression and anxiety, prevent thinning bones (osteoporosis), reverse prediabetes, and greatly lower your risk of developing diabetes. If you already have diabetes, being active will make good diabetes control more attainable.
Why should you care about preventing or reversing such chronic ailments? Because they also have the potential to rob you of living well and of life. In fact, the more sedentary you are, the greater your risk of dying prematurely from any cause becomes. Even more important, though – at least in my opinion – is your increased likelihood of not feeling good while you are alive if you're unfit. Who could honestly say that he or she would really like spending the last twenty years of a diabetes-shortened life impaired by life-altering diabetic complications? Why risk the potential loss of living well with diabetes when you can prevent or minimize it and other chronic health problems simply by becoming physically fit?
Luckily, becoming "fit" doesn't require a daily trip to the gym or doing physical activities that you abhor. It also doesn't mean that you have to be able to complete a marathon or a triathlon. But it does assume that you will work to achieve the capacity to physically accomplish whatever you want to without becoming unduly fatigued – such as walking up a flight of stairs, picking up your kids or grandkids, working, running errands, volunteering, or doing other activities without stopping much to rest – sleep well at night, and still get up the next day and do it all over again.
Thus, you can no longer conclude that obesity necessarily or invariably causes a state of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, or even heart disease. While being over fat is not devoid of health risks, body fat loss alone is apparently neither a panacea nor a strict requirement. It is possible to be physically fit but still overweight and to live well with diabetes.
For more information on all of the mental benefits of physical activity, please consult my new book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight. Check my Web site (www.shericolberg.com) for more details or to order a copy today.
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NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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