November marks the beginning of the holiday season as Americans get ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. We all know what that means, the opportunity to eat too much and use cold weather as an excuse not to exercise.

November is also American Diabetes Month, the perfect time to spotlight the dangers of the disease and look at ways to exercise, eat right and stay healthy. Many of us usher in the new year more than a few pounds overweight, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

There are multiple risk factors for developing diabetes, some of them you can’t do anything about. Those are known as non-modifiable risk factors and include:

♦ Age (being over 40)

♦ Genetics (family history of diabetes)

♦ Ethnicity (being part of a minority groups such as African Americans, Latino, Asian)

All of us are going to age and none of us can control who we are related to. What we CAN control are modifiable risk factors, factors that can be changed. Those include:

♦ Being overweight

♦ Physical inactivity

♦ Poor diet

♦ High blood pressure

♦ High levels of fat in the bloodstream

Try walking

One easy exercise you can do almost anywhere, inside and outside, is walking. While walking might not give you the same calorie burn you could receive from other more intensive exercises, it offers its own set of health benefits. And many people can enjoy walking through all stages of life.

Like many exercises, walking can help you lower your blood sugar and boost your immune system.

One piece of advice. Get some comfortable, well-cushioned shoes. They can make your feet, hips and back feel better.

Hitting the gym

Try walking for 15 minutes, biking for 15 minutes, using the elliptical for 15 minutes and then rowing for 15 minutes. That gives you an hour of cardio and uses most of the major muscle groups.

The American Diabetes Association recommends getting at least two and a half hours of exercises a week. If you do the math, that is just 30 minutes a day Monday through Friday. Making that happen could seriously improve your life.

Do I have diabetes?

Many people might have diabetes in the early stages and not even know it. But there are signs and symptoms that you need to be aware of:

♦ Increased thirst

♦ Increased urination

♦ Increased hunger

♦ Excessive tiredness

♦ Blurred vision

♦ Wounds that are slow to heal

♦ Numbness and/or tingling in your hands and feet

See your doctor

It’s important to see your primary care provider at least once a year to have routine lab work.

♦ Ask your provider to check your blood glucose level.

♦ Ask your provider for an A1C test if you’re having symptoms of diabetes.

♦ The A1C blood test is more accurate than a random fingerstick because it represents the big picture of what your glucose levels are averaging over the past three months.

If you’re interested in learning more, our certified diabetes educators can be reached at 706-509-5184.

Tifani Kinard is Administrator in Charge and Chief Nursing Officer at Polk Medical Center, a part of Floyd Healthcare Management.

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