Inactivity Helps Prediabetes Progress into Diabetes

Prediabetes was identified as a condition by the American Diabetes Association in 2002. It refers to an impairment in the body’s ability to maintain blood proper glucose levels. Because it is not as severe as diabetes, prediabetes offers clinicians and their patients an opportunity to halt the process of impairment before it worsens and becomes clinical diabetes.

Prediabetes also offers opportunities for research into how to halt this process. A study published in The Journals of Gerontology presents a startling new insight into the importance of physical activity in preventing diabetes. Researchers examined the correlation between activity level, as determined by number of steps taken each day, and blood sugar level in a group of overweight prediabetics between the ages of 60 and 85.

Just a few days of physical inactivity, defined as fewer than 1000 steps per day, led to a significant decrease in muscle mass and strength. “Use it or lose it” is a well-known truism, but it is important to note just how quickly seniors “lose it,” even after a relatively short period of inactivity.

What is truly shocking, however, was that after just two weeks of inactivity, these prediabetics developed symptoms of full-blown diabetes. One might think that since this change took place after a short period of inactivity, a swift return to a higher level of activity would reverse the change. In younger adults, that is, in fact, true, but not in older people. Study participants did not revert to prediabetes when increasing their physical activity level.

The researchers concluded that when older, overweight people who have already been diagnosed with prediabetes are expected to be off their feet for an extended period of time, their blood sugar must be managed in order to prevent diabetes. This management might include dietary changes, alternative forms of physical exercise, and perhaps even medication.

The implications of this study are significant: while 23 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes, more than 84 million have prediabetes. Preventing them from developing full-blown diabetes would be a significant public health success.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.

We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.

Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.

We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.

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