By Michelle Jenck, YOW Coordinator

Adventist Health’s annual “Diabetes & You” seminar is Tuesday, November 7th.  Local medical professionals will present information about Diabetes prevention and management, including the impacts on dental and eye health.  The event will be held at the Tillamook Adventist Church, 2610 First Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal. In the case of Type 2 Diabetes, which makes up about 95% of all diabetes cases, this occurs when the body becomes resistant to, or does not properly respond to the hormone, insulin.  According to the 2015 Oregon Diabetes Report, “Diabetes can cause nerve and kidney damage, skin infections, blindness and can lead to disability and premature death if not carefully managed.  Diabetes also adversely affects the cardiovascular system and can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.”

Oregon’s county rankings data indicates that approximately 9% of Tillamook County residents have Diabetes but many more go undiagnosed or are considered pre-diabetic.  There is a bit of good news, however, in that Type 2 Diabetes and many of the above-mentioned conditions can be prevented and managed through key lifestyle interventions including: avoiding tobacco, adopting healthful eating, and increasing physical activity.

Many of us know that being more active is good for us but we don’t always know what the best form of activity is or how much or how often we need to do it.  In addition to this, it can be challenging to adopt and maintain new habits.  In their Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes Fit Facts, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) states that exercise is key for control and treatment of diabetes because it decreases insulin resistance.  In other words, exercise helps us maintain optimal blood sugar levels.  Cardiovascular exercise and resistance training both work to decrease insulin resistance.

Cardiovascular exercise can include moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) such as swimming, biking, or jogging.  Even brisk walking can count as MVPA.  A good rule of thumb is to use the “talk test.”  If you can easily carry on a conversation during your activity, it would be considered low intensity (not MVPA).  At a moderate to vigorous level of intensity, you can still have a conversation with someone but find yourself taking increasingly more breaths between words as the intensity increases.

The CDC recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-vigorous physical activity.  Doing an activity for 30 minutes, at least five days per week, will help you reach that goal.  If 30 minutes of activity at one time is too much, it can be broken down and then built up over time.  The idea is to get the heart rate up on a regular basis to increase cardiovascular endurance and resting metabolism.  Frequent, intense activity forces the body to create adaptations that lead to improved health.

Research shows that increased muscle or lean body mass also helps to reduce insulin resistance.  The mechanisms behind this are complex.  The important thing to understand as it relates to muscle is that it is very metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories, than other tissues of the body.  Not only does this help with weight management but it also affects our resting metabolic rate and blood sugar levels in that muscle takes up glucose, or sugar, as fuel.  Resistance training is recommended at least two days per week and can be performed in as little as 20 minutes.  Basic body weight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges work for many people.  Resistance bands, free weights and even yoga are other effective strategies.

According to Sue Phillips-Meyer, Diabetes specialist at Adventist Health and coordinator of the annual seminar, “When it comes to exercise, I like to compare the body’s mechanism of moving sugar into the cell, to a bicycle chain.  Without exercise, that chain becomes rusty and inefficient.  With regular exercise, the chain stays supple and works efficiently.  The well-exercised chain even works while you are “coasting,” helping improve your blood glucose levels twenty-four hours a day.”

Dedicating time to physical activity each day is key.  It is also important to find activities you enjoy – or can at least tolerate – given the return on investment.  Health gains made from both cardiovascular and strength training last only as long as the activities continue to be performed and only if at an intensity level that challenges the status quo.  In other words, “use-it-or-lose it.”  The cost of doing nothing is too great.  By taking charge of your own health, you can prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes.



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About the Author : Michelle