Holly Glen Gearhart
If you are over 50 you may already know that diabetes and heart disease are high up on the health concern list for people over 50. I am one who will develop diabetes II unless I drop weight and get moving.
A study by the National Health Institute’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) proved that moderate diet changes, weight loss and physical activity for people like me who are in the high risk category can greatly lower on our risk of developing diabetes. In fact, the study proved that as little as 5 to 7 percent of weight loss can effectively slow the onset of diabetes II.
The DPP study sought out people who were overweight, with a high level of blood glucose, also called pre-diabetes. Many of the participants reported they had family members with type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes, obesity, and a family history of diabetes are strong risk factors for developing diabetes. The study included participants from minority groups who have high instances of diabetes: African Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Pacific Islander Americans.
Six months ago my primary-care physician ran a blood test to determine the chances I have of developing diabetes II; the results confirmed I was pre-diabetic. My doctor suggested a few steps I could take, like modifying my diet. Four months later she took another blood test and the results had improved. I was no longer in the realm of developing diabetes. I did a simple thing, and by cutting out saturated fats and drinking more water, the test results improved.
Today, I am still in the high risk category. The only way I can improve my chances of not developing diabetes is with daily exercise. I am perfectly willing to exercise but I have a number of injuries from a very active lifestyle in my 20s and 30s. I scaled boulders with my cameras in a pack on my back. Film cameras and tripods added lots of weight, and hiking was a way of life for me; eight miles in and eight out was never a problem.
I long to enjoy the place I chose to call home, Washington State, but I cannot walk more than a block without terrible pain. The answer is weight loss and pain management. The injuries to my lower spine are not going to reverse, so my only option is to give my lumbar a starting chance. I have to lose a lot of weight, and to do that I have to exercise. To do that I have to start with a physical therapy specialist.
I called to set up my first appointment with the PT my neurologist recommended. I was very surprised to find out that they take Medicare! I plan to develop enough body core strength – lower back and stomach muscles – to be able to walk, and perhaps even run a little, as I improve.
According to my primary care physician and the National Institutes of Health, “People [who] … exercised, usually by walking five days a week for about 30 minutes a day, and lowered their intake of fat and calories, [lost] an average of 15 pounds in the first year of the study. People in the lifestyle change group reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent over 3 years. Lifestyle change was even more effective in those aged 60 and older. People in this group reduced their risk by 71 percent.” I like those numbers!