Don’t let diabetes slow you down
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is common life-long health condition characterized by high amounts of glucose in the blood that the body is unable to use properly. This is because the pancreas has not produced any, or not enough, insulin to assist glucose to enter the
body’s cells. It is also possible that the insulin that is produced simply does not work – a condition known as insulin resistance.
Types of Diabetes
There are three variations of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, sometimes referred to as juvenile-onset diabetes, commonly appears in people under the age of 40 and accounts for around 10-15% of people with the disease. Often triggered by environmental factors such as diet, patients with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent and must follow a careful diet and exercise routine.
The most common form of the disease is called type 2 diabetes, affecting around 85% of people with the disease. Also known as late-onset diabetes, this type of diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and relative deficiency. Lifestyle factors including excess weight and inactivity can pose a major risk to developing this type of diabetes. Dietary changes, careful exercise and/or tablets are commonly used in treatment plans, although insulin injections may be recommended if the disease progresses.
The third and least common form of diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) affects around 5% of pregnant women. Characterized by intolerance to carbohydrates, self-care and changes in diet are essential to avoid the risk of developing permanent diabetes following the birth.
How Many People Are We Talking About?
The 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet produced by the American Diabetes Association reveals some startling figures. In the United States alone, over 25 million people are thought to have diabetes in some form, 7 million of which remain undiagnosed. Perhaps even more shocking is the estimation that almost 80 million people are classed as being pre-diabetes, a so called grey area where a person blood sugar levels lie precariously between normal and diabetic levels. The data also reveals that diabetes is slightly more common in men than in women and higher percentages of sufferers are aged 65 or older.
Exercise for Diabetes Patients
Those people who are diagnosed with diabetes are often prescribed exercise to reduce the likelihood of diabetes complications. Unfortunately, exercise can reveal or worsen some symptoms, so it’s important that screening should take place before an
exercise program is commenced. This should serve to identify any possible complications and assess the patients control over the disease. That said regular exercise should not be avoided. There are many health benefits associated with a carefully planned exercise regime. If conducted properly while taking the right precautions, such as wearing a MedicAlert® bracelet, exercise can be a highly
beneficial pursuit for diabetics.
Famous Athletes with Diabetes
The British rower, Sir Steven Redgrave is a prime example of how diabetes can be overcome. A five-time gold medal-winner, Steve was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the ages of just 35. He didn’t stop him being named as Britain’s greatest Olympian.
Ayden Byle, the world-famous runner, suffers from type 2 diabetes. He didn’t let it stop him running over 6,000 kilometers across North America, raising over $250,000 in the process. Ayden started the non-profit charity, the Ayden Byle Diabetes
Research Foundation, in order to fund research into a cure for diabetes.
Chris Southwell, a type 1 diabetic, hails from Cholderton in England but spends much of his time in the Swiss Alps region of Verbier, where he is a regular competitor in extreme free ride snowboarding events. Like Steve and Ayden, Chris does not allow
diabetes to slow him down.
These athletes serve as an inspiration to diabetics the world over. Diabetes needn’t be a life sentence. With the right attitude and careful approach, there are no limits to what can be achieved.
About the Author
Jake Monroe hails from Toronto, Canada. A nutritional advisor during the week and a long-distance runner at weekends, Jake was
diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2007.