Diabetes is one of the fastest growing illnesses in Australia New diagnoses of type II diabetes are at an all-time high and the age at which people are developing the condition is getting younger.
There are also millions of people with the pre-diabetic state known as insulin resistance. Many are undiagnosed. They do not even know they are on a fast track to diabetes and are therefore not taking any action to halt the disease.
Knowledge is power if it means you can take steps to prevent or delay diabetes. Genetics play a part, but life style factors such as excess body weight, lack of exercise and poor diet are still the greatest contributors to diabetes in women.
Whether you are genetically predisposed to diabetes or not, are already insulin resistance or not, the reality is exercise can play a huge part in preventing you from becoming another statistic.
Insulin resistance is where the body releases more and more insulin to deal with the body’s intake of ‘sugar’. Insulin resistance is usually accompanied with weight gain or at least an increased difficulty in controlling body weight.
Ironically, as the body stores more fat, insulin resistance increases and it becomes a vicious cycle. In time the body cannot release enough insulin to control ingested sugars, this is now diabetes.
Finally the body may run out of insulin altogether. Daily insulin injections are required and many other health implications follow.
Being overweight increases the chances of developing type II diabetes seven fold and if you are above the healthy weight range losing just 7-10% of your body weight cuts your diabetes risk by half.
Getting active burns calories meaning there are less left over to be stored as fat. Increasing your muscle through exercise makes you more efficient at burning calories even when the body is at rest.
More muscle equals less fat! Studies show that a combination of cardio and resistance training is most effective for losing weight or maintaining a healthy body weight and fending off type II diabetes. Every 2 hours you spend watching TV instead of getting active increases the chance of diabetes by 14%.
Offset inactivity by fitting in 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, or challenge yourself with some HIIT (high intensity interval training) especially if you have a sedentary job. Working your muscles more often and harder improves your body’s ability to reduce blood glucose levels and utilise insulin.
Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease – all conditions that go hand in hand with excess weight, inactivity and diabetes. The average Western diet contains too many animal fats, refined sugars, poor quality carbs, colours and additives.
The low fat revolution did us no favours, as a drop in fat often means an increase in sugar content and another step towards diabetes.
An hour of sweat and burn in a Pump class, Pilates studio or park session encourages you to make healthier food choices. After all, you don’t want to undo the hard work of one hour in 10 minutes because of what you put in your mouth. Regular exercise and a healthy diet partner up in the fight against diabetes and insulin resistance.
By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub
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