Be Well with Chris Fissel – The impact of Diabetes



Be Well by Chris Fissel

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases in which the body does not  produce or properly use insulin, which is needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy.  The term Type I diabetes means the individual lacks the ability to produce/secrete insulin.  Type II refers to a combination of resistance to insulin action and inadequate insulin secretion.  Glucose is the primary fuel for cells, and insulin is needed to take the glucose from the bloodstream to supply it to those cells.  When glucose builds up in the cells, the cells are starved for energy.  Long-term high blood sugar levels can lead to eye, kidney, nerve and heart damage.

Because of sensory and visual impairments, individuals with diabetes often become even more inactive.  The sedentary lifestyle may lead to further decrease in function, social isolation and depression.  Individuals are unable to work. Family members are often called upon to provide care.  Unmanaged or mismanaged diabetes puts an individual at twice the risk of death compared to someone of comparable age without the disease; diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.  The financial burden is nearly $100 BILLION in medical costs, as well as nearly $50 BILLION economic impact due to disability benefits, work loss and premature death.

Traditionally, patients have been passive recipients of care, relying on medical professionals to outline the plan of care.  While healthcare providers are taking a more proactive approach through prevention and patient education, the patients must also become more autonomous decision makers.  Often this needs to begin with new dietary and physical activity behaviors to self-manage their disease.  Diabetes is often the result of obesity and inactivity, but despite the obvious benefits of exercise in the management of blood glucose levels in Type II diabetes, statistics suggest that nearly 80% of those diagnosed with diabetes do not follow the minimum exercise recommendation of only 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity!  The problem may be that many patients don’t know where to start.

Following medical clearance by a physician, an exercise specialist such as a physical therapist can screen the patient’s musculoskeletal, integumentary (skin), neurologic and cardiopulmonary systems, as well as perform exercise testing methods in order to develop an individualized exercise prescription.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “people with pre-diabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay diabetes and even return their blood glucose levels to normal.”

Bottom line: get regular check-ups that include blood panels to determine if you have diabetes or are at risk, and talk to your healthcare professional about lifestyle management, including appropriate exercise prescription!  From great fitness classes to experienced personal trainers to healthy food items in our café, The Solebury Club has all of the tools you need to combat diabetes.  Let us help you on your path to wellness!


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