Simple steps people with diabetes can take to improve their quality of life
(BPT) - One of the ways people with diabetes can help manage their disease is balancing food with physical activity, according to the American Diabetes Association (Association). By maintaining a balanced diet with regular exercise, you have the ingredients needed to help live a quality life.
There are many ways you can approach a balanced lifestyle and incorporate regular exercise. Here are five tips from the Association to help you get started:
Create a healthy plate – It’s easy to put together healthy meals when you use the diabetes plate method. Start with drawing an imaginary line down the middle of the plate. On one side, cut the section in half again. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables like green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and carrots. In one of the smaller sections, put grains and starchy foods, and put protein foods in the last section. Add a serving of fruit, a serving of dairy, or both as your meal plan allows. To complete your meal, add a low-calorie drink like water, unsweetened tea or coffee.
Healthy snacks – When it comes to snacking, think beyond chips and cookies. There are better choices that will give you a nutrition boost and keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal. Some good ideas are small portions of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and low-fat dairy.
Exercise and blood glucose – With diabetes, safely exercising while maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is important. The Association recommends you have a plan on how to treat hypoglycemia, especially if you have type 1 diabetes. Having a fast-acting carbohydrate like glucose tabs or glucose gel available during your exercise routine can help you to quickly treat hypoglycemia. Test your blood glucose levels (if prescribed) to see how different types of exercise affect you.
Aerobic exercises – Aerobic exercise is important for everyone. For good health, it is recommended that you aim for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week or a total of 150 minutes per week. Examples of aerobic exercises include brisk walking, biking, dancing, rowing, playing tennis, swimming and climbing stairs. These kinds of exercises help lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol. Aerobic exercise also makes your heart and bones strong, lowers stress and can improve blood circulation.
Strength training is also important – Aim to do some type of strength training at least two times per week. Lifting weights or using weight machines, resistance bands and calisthenics are all great options. Strength training helps lower your blood glucose and builds stronger muscles and bones.
For those with diabetes who are interested in getting active, and their friends and family who want to support them, the Association has 108 Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes signature fundraising walks happening across the country. These walks have raised more than $20 million a year to support the Association’s mission to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.
Walking this year are Mitch and Carly Lenett, a father-daughter team of Red Striders. Red Striders are walkers living with type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes. They are a reminder of why this walk exists.
“As a person who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 45 years, and a father to Carly, who is also living with type 1, walking side by side with other Red Striders is an empowering experience,” Mitch says.
Though the pair has raised thousands of dollars for their local Step Out walk, the family wanted to raise even more for the Association, so Carly combined her love of swimming with fundraising. In the last two years, she has raised more than $20,000 in pledges just for swimming laps. In 2013, at 8 years old, she swam 110 laps, more than 1.5 miles, with Olympic silver medalist Kristy Kowal by her side all the way.
“Carly is such an inspiration, not just to me as a father, but as a fellow person with type 1 diabetes,” Mitch says. “She is a true demonstration that diabetes doesn’t have to stop you.”
Carly is now in training for her 3-mile swim with Kowal on Sept. 20. Her goal is to raise $15,000.
For more information about the Step Out walks or to register for a walk in your community, visit www.diabetes.org/stepout or call (888) DIABETES (888-342-2383).