Prediabetes & Exercise

Prediabetes is a condition that identifies individuals who have an increased risk of becoming Type II diabetics. It is diagnosed with either a fasting blood glucose measurement of 100-125 or an elevated Hemoglobin A1C level. The Hemoglobin A1C level provides a look at the average blood sugar level over the previous 8-12 weeks and is fairly independent of the previous few meals.

Gone are the days of the physician saying to his patient, “your blood sugar was elevated at 120” and the patient responding, “Well it was my birthday this week and I had some cake and alcoholic drinks causing the elevation.” The hemoglobin A1C removes that reason.

When physicians diagnose patients with “prediabetes” we try and educate the patient and family encouraging dietary education on a healthy eating lifestyle, weight reduction if they are overweight and regular exercise. Fortunately, in the senior citizen age group, newly diagnosed prediabetics usually don’t end up developing full blown diabetes if they watch their weight and get active.

A recent study published in BMC Endocrine Disorders found that aerobic exercise was best at controlling Hemoglobin A1C levels but resistance training was not far behind. Those individuals who engaged in both aerobic training plus resistance training showed better weight control and fasting blood glucose levels than the control groups or aerobic training alone. When evaluating the data both aerobic training and resistance training helped. The message to me for my patients is, if you are a prediabetic, start exercising doing what you enjoy doing. Make it fun, not work. Couple that with a dietary education from a trained dietitian or diabetes peer educator and you will do well.

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