Walk to work for Diabetes
We hear a lot about Diabetes these days, but not too many of us know exactly what it is and how it can affect us.
Statistics tell us that more than 4 per cent of Australians aged 18 years or older have diabetes with the risk increasing with age.
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood are too high. Our blood sugar is normally regulated by insulin, which is produced in our pancreas. A person with diabetes doesn’t produce enough insulin or there is some kind of problem with our cells respond to it. In diabetes, either the pancreas can’t make insulin (type 1 diabetes), or the cells don’t respond to the insulin properly (insulin resistance) and the pancreas produces inadequate insulin for the body’s increased needs (type 2 diabetes).
Our body uses glucose as its main source of energy with that glucose usually coming from carbohydrates. After the food is digested, glucose is released and absorbed into our bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the glucose moves into body tissues so that our cells can use it for energy. If we have an excess of glucose it is stored in our liver or converted to fat and stored in other parts of our body.
Symptoms of diabetes are varied, but some types have no symptoms at all. These symptoms CAN INCLUDE –
- being more thirsty than usual
- passing more urine
- feeling tired and lethargic
- slow-healing wounds
- itching and skin infections, particularly around the genitals
- blurred vision
- nausea and vomiting
- weight loss
- mood swings
The main types of diabetes are called type 1 and type 2. Other varieties include gestational diabetes, diabetes insipidus and pre-diabetes.
Approximately one in every ten Australians with diabetes has type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is much more common in Australia than in many other countries. There is no cure, but type 1 diabetes can be successfully managed with insulin injections, nutrition and exercise. If a person with type 1 diabetes skips a meal, exercises heavily or takes too much insulin, their blood sugar levels will fall. This can lead to hypoglycaemica. The symptoms include tremor, sweating, dizziness, hunger, headache and change in mood. This can be remedied with a quick boost of sugar (such as jellybeans or glucose tablets), then something more substantial such as fruit. A person with type 1 diabetes should have lollies on hand at all times, just in case.
Type 2 diabetes is sometimes described as a ‘lifestyle disease’ because it is more common in people who don’t do enough physical activity, and who are overweight or obese. It is strongly associated with high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and an ‘apple’ body shape, where excess weight is carried around the waist. While it usually affects mature adults (over 40), younger people are also now being diagnosed in greater numbers as rates of overweight and obesity increase.
Gestational diabetes affects three to eight per cent of pregnant women. After the baby is born, the mother’s blood glucose levels usually return to normal. Women are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes after experiencing gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can cause excessive growth and fat in the baby. If the mother’s blood glucose levels remain raised, the baby may be larger than normal. Following delivery, the baby may experience low blood glucose levels, particularly if the mother’s blood glucose levels were raised before the birth. Gestational diabetes can be monitored and treated and, if well controlled, these risks are greatly reduced. The baby will not be born with diabetes.
High blood glucose levels can result in serious complications. These include:
- kidney damage
- eye damage
- nerve damage to the feet and other parts of the body
- heart disease (for example, angina or heart attacks), strokes and circulation problems in the legs
- sexual difficulties, including erectile dysfunction
- foot ulcers or infections resulting from circulation problems and nerve damage.
At this time, there is no cure for diabetes. Treatment aims to prevent complications by controlling blood glucose levels, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and by achieving a healthy body weight.
This November, you can help raise money for Diabetes Australia to hopefully someday find a cure for this insidious disease.
November the 13th is Diabetes Australia’s annual Walk to Work Day, a day that encourages all those who are able to walk to work instead of driving or using public transport. This is the 18th year of Walk to Work Day, which is an initiative to raise funds for Diabetes Australia. The aim is to not only encourage walking to work for the day, but to increase the frequency of walking every day.
Personal trainer and wellbeing expert Laura Moore is a passionate advocate of the importance of staying active. “Regular walking is absolutely vital for a healthy body and an equally healthy mind. For many people, our daily lives are so sedentary. We move but a fraction of the amount our ancestors did and with this has come great consequences such as diabetes and obesity,” says Laura. “Scientific research shows us that exercise helps us deal with stress, elevates mood, increases cognitive function and replenishes our energy levels. Imagine benefiting from all that before you even step foot in the door of the office in the morning!”
“In today’s society, we find ourselves overstimulated all the time, which causes the body to release hormones and chemicals to help bring it back to a state of balance. A simple walk can be invaluable in naturally restoring these levels (or preventing them from becoming imbalanced in the first place) as it gives the brain time to switch off and calm down, while experiencing the benefits of physical activity at the same time,” says Laura.
Obviously not everyone has the luxury of living in walking distance to their workplace, but Walk to Work Day is really about being active however you can – whether it’s using public transport half the way and walking the rest, taking a thirty minute break at lunch to go for a walk or even holding a walking meeting.
Alex Hsu is the founder of fitness footwear website The Next Pair and he is responsible for keeping Australians looking stylish while walking to and from work. The Next Pair is stocked with over 1,500 of the latest designer styles from recognised global brands such as Nike, Asics, Converse, Vans and more. It carries a range of models which are both supportive and stylish with office attire.
“We’re hoping that the better Aussies feel about their walk to work, the more motivated they are going to be to do it regularly. It’s so important to have the right footwear, to provide comfort and support when walking for long distances. I often see people leaving work in their heels, business shoes or ballet flats which is fine for a short stroll but could potentially cause long-term damage if they are walking for prolonged periods of time. People often see sneakers as a fashion statement, which they are of course, but having the right footwear is so much more than that,” says Alex.
“Walking is not only good for the body and mind, but also for the environment. If we can cut down on the amounts of cars and buses on the roads, we can reduce vehicle emissions and improve the quality of the air we breathe. It’s a win-win really!” says Alex.
Alex’s five tips for making the walk to work more enjoyable are:
Finding the right shoes and socks – suits and sneakers rarely go in the same sentence, but when it comes to defining your own style and walking comfortably, look no further than a pair of Converse.
I recommend wearing athletic shoes for any walk of over 10 minutes. Choose a lightweight, breathable, supportive shoe. Sweat wicking socks are good as an addition.Plan your route – use quieter side streets or greenway paths as much as possible. Skip crossing major streets to avoid the noise and delay.
Carrying your gear – a briefcase, handbag or shoulder bag is likely to be uncomfortable to carry for more than ten minutes. Switching to a backpack will allow you to carry your load while maintaining good walking posture. This can help prevent back ache from walking with poor body alignment. Avoid carrying anything in your hands, which can lead to repetitive strain for your neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist.
Timing your walk – average out the time of your walks and add a few extra minutes to allow for hazards, inclement weather, or sprucing yourself up at work. Adding some time on either side allows you to be settled in when you actually start working, increasing productivity.
Groove to some tunes – the walk to work not only burns extra calories, but listening to upbeat music will elevate or relax your mood on the way in. Alternatively, catch up on the latest news on-the-go with a podcast.
While there is no cure at the moment for this diabetes early intervention usually means that it can be controlled. If you suffer with any of the symptoms above, or feel that you may have diabetes, contact your doctor immediately.
For more info on Walk to Work Day and to donate visit www.walk.com.au/wtw/homepage.asp
For more info on The Next Pair visit www.thenextpair.com.au