Diabetes - back to Programs & Services
Diabetes is the largest growing heath problem in the United States. An estimated 20.8 million children and adults in the United States (7% of the population) have diabetes. Often referred to as the greatest non-infective threat to global health, diabetes is the 3rd leading cause of death in US.
Type 2 diabetes is a slow progressing disease with about one-third of those with diabetes unaware that they have the disease. Others may have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than normal levels, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. A diagnosis of pre-diabetes places a person at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and an increased risk for developing heart disease.
Ninety percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Most people with type 2 diabetes and pre diabetes do not produce enough insulin or their body cannot properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. This means that glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood which then spills over into the urine and passes out of the body, thus depriving the body of its main source of energy; therefore, fatigue increased hunger and thirst, and excessive urination are commonly seen with type 2 diabetes.
Life expectancy is decreased by about 10 years as a result of several health complications related to diabetes. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to develop heart disease. Hypertension is twice as common in individuals with diabetes therefore increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and congestive heart failure. Diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure and limb amputation. Additionally, eye diseases associated with diabetes are a leading cause of blindness. People with diabetes are twenty-five times more likely to lose their sight from retinopathy, cataracts or glaucoma.
Several risk factors have been established in assessing oneís risk of developing diabetes. The more risk factors one has, the greater the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol and triglycerides
- History of gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy)
Ancestry of African American, Hispanic American, Mexican American, Native American
Once the doctor has given a diagnosis of pre diabetes or type 2 diabetes, there are life modifications to keep blood sugar levels steady and healthy. These may include medication, diet, weight control, and exercise.
How can physical therapy help people with diabetes and pre diabetes?
A major government study discovered that individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes could reduce that risk by 58% by daily exercising for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity.
Research has also shown that physical activity can improve a body's ability to use insulin, lower blood glucose, and delay and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes. In two studies, individuals with type 2 diabetes who participated in programs of aerobic and/or resistance exercises at moderate to high intensities were able to reduce their medication intake by up to 83% in 12 months. The higher the intensity of exercise, the greater the improvement in blood glucose levels.*
Other benefits of physical activity:
- lowering blood pressure
- lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol
- lowering risk for heart disease and stroke
- strengthen the heart
- keeping bones strong
- keeping joints flexible
- lowering the risk of falling
- assisting with weight loss and reducing body fat
- increasing energy level
- reducing stress
Physical therapists at One Step Ahead are experts in the how the body moves. They are specially trained in the correct way of performing exercise and appropriate exercise selection to minimize risk of injury. By performing a thorough health screen and a customized evaluation, a proper and safe exercise program will be given based on a person's needs and goals. At One Step Ahead Physical Therapy, a typical evaluation assesses a person's joint range-of-motion, muscle flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. The support and guidance at One Step Ahead may help motivate, encourage, and educate those who have encountered past frustrations and unsuccessful attempts with exercise.
If you have specific questions regarding exercise and how it can help control type 2 diabetes, consult a physician or contact One Step Ahead Physical Therapy to discuss how we can assist and support the decision to be successful in changing a personís level of physical fitness and better control oneís diabetes.
*Please consult a physician before starting a high intensity exercise program.
A recommendation of stress testing with type 2 Diabetes with individuals greater than 40 years old may be indicated for those who plan to start a high intensity exercise program. High intensity exercise may be contraindicated with severe retinopathy because of risk of hemorrhage or retinal detachment. Individuals using insulin should monitor blood glucose levels regularly since exercise may reduce the need for medications.