Is It Healthier in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood?
Your community can play a role in your diabetes management
When my kids were younger, we used to sit and watch Mr. Roger's Neighborhood on our local public television channel. The kind and gentle Mr. Rogers opened each show with his famous song:
"It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine? … "
Then he would leisurely change his shoes, zip up his comfortable sweater, and begin the show.
What makes a healthy neighborhood? A new study published in the January issue of Epidemiology, found that the neighborhood we live in may play a role in our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This makes a lot of sense. Think about the area in which you live. Do you have safe sidewalks to walk on, inviting parks to jog through and play ball in, nearby health clubs that help you stick to your physical activity goals, and stores that offer high-quality produce and healthy foods? According to researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, if you live in an activity-friendly area such as this, you and your loved ones are less likely to develop insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. The study showed that individuals who live in neighborhoods that have these positive resources were 17 percent less likely to have insulin resistance than those in neighborhoods with fewer resources.
I'd like to add my own observation – if you already have diabetes and live in an area that enables you to partake in healthy behaviors more easily, you are more likely to enjoy improved diabetes control.
If you don't live in the healthy type of city or suburb described above, search for alternative ways to stay active and eat well. Here are a few suggestions:
- f your neighborhood lacks parks and safe walkways…walk the malls. Mall walking has become very popular. Many shopping malls open early to welcome walkers who wish to circle the perimeter a few times before it opens. If you go often, you may even develop some friendships with other walkers, which can make your morning workout even more enjoyable.
- If your stores don't stock healthy foods…search for a food co-op in your area or order online. Some areas offer home delivery. You place your order online and the items are brought to your door for a modest delivery fee. There may also be food co-ops in your area. Local health food stores should be able to direct you to groups of individuals who pitch in together to order fresh fruits and veggies in bulk.
- If you don't have a health club nearby or lack one that is reasonably priced, rent exercise tapes and work out alone or with a buddy. There are also numerous exercise shows on television that you can do throughout the week. You can also build up your own personal gym by purchasing a variety of different pieces of equipment.
You may not live in Mr. Roger's perfect world, but you can help turn your neighborhood into a healthier one.
"So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?"
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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