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Five Ways to Control Type 2 Diabetes

Proven strategies for achieving tight glucose control – and avoiding dangerous complications.

Type 2 diabetes in America continued...

Increase your activity. “I avoid the word ‘exercise.’ Exercise is fantastic, but it’s very difficult for people to do, at least initially, and sustain. But everyone can add activity to their daily lives,” Snow says.

Some ideas: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you work on the 10th floor, you can take the elevator to the ninth and walk up a flight, he notes. Walking is extremely beneficial, so Snow tells his patients to buy a pedometer to measure their daily steps. “Set yourself a goal. Try to get to 10,000 steps a day. If you’ve been sedentary, your goal might be 4,000 steps.” Recently, a CDC study found 52% of people with diabetes also have arthritis. While this may make exercise more difficult for some, people with arthritis can do many low-impact activities, such as walking or swimming. Keeping active helps both conditions, Snow notes.

If you smoke, quit. “If you have diabetes and smoke, that’s slow suicide,” says Snow, who adds that smoking accelerates the onset of every single diabetes complication. Ask your doctor for help to break the habit.

Relax. If you’re under stress, your body can react physically; this is known as the “fight or flight” response, and it can adversely affect blood glucose levels. However, Snow says, “it isn’t only the stress itself, it’s how people respond. Usually, people under stress don’t eat right, so stress impacts in that way.” Stress relievers such as meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises can help.

Monitor your blood glucose levels. Snow prefers the word “monitor” to “test” because test has a pass-fail connotation, which sends the wrong message, he says. “You want to check to see what your blood sugar is doing at different times of the day. That way, you’ll know whether the changes you are making are successful.”

These steps can help you achieve tight glucose control, something Anne Tierney knows a lot about. “I don’t use large plates anymore; I eat my food out of little ramekins,” she says. She exercises on a treadmill and an elliptical trainer, and she lifts weights. And what about the chocolate? “I still eat it, but only the sugar-free kind.”

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