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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Exercise For Diabetes'

Walking Meditation

March 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

As I hiked out of the wilderness all I could think about was how much my feet hurt. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

Wearing a brand new pair of boots on a long backpacking trip into West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness about 35 years ago could have been a big mistake. The new boots gave my feet terrible blisters, and I had forgotten to take any moleskin. Returning to the trailhead after four or five days, I knew I had just one other way to control the pain. Deliberate walking meditation put my entire consciousness into my feet.

I don’t punish my feet any more to get the high that walking meditation brings. But I still hike or walk and meditate at the same time.

A leading exponent of walking meditation is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who is one of the important influences in the development of Western Buddhism. His book with Nguyen Anh-Huong, Walking Meditation (Sounds True: Boulder, Colorado, 2006), says that when we practice walking meditation, “We walk for the sake of walking…We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips.”

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes, Psychosocial

The Korean Paradox

November 30th, 2010 · 4 Comments

South Korea is different from the United States.

In some important respects this Asian country is more like America than most of us would think. This country is a democracy with a booming economy.

But the differences are great and go beyond Korea’s use of a different language and even a different alphabet than Westerners use. The differences go far beyond history and tradition. The biggest differences that I have seen during my visit this month are in the people themselves.

I saw with my own eyes how thin almost all Koreans are. Coming from the United States — even though I live in the thinnest state — I have been amazed to see almost no obesity here.

So, of course, I expected that almost no one in Korea would have diabetes. After all, didn’t the American weight problem lead to the rapid rise of diabetes in our country?

We know that some sort of link between being overweight and having diabetes exists. We do know that being overweight doesn’t cause diabetes, because two-thirds of American are overweight and about one-tenth of us have diabetes. But as our weight has gone up so too has the proportion of people with diabetes. Those two conditions have to have some association. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes, People With Diabetes

A Stand-Up Guy and His Desk

November 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments

When I tell you that I am a stand-up guy, I wouldn’t blame you for assuming that I was boasting. After all, part of the standard Mafia definition of this term is one who “can be trusted.”

While I do hope that you can trust me, I call myself a stand-up guy because one of my own posts here inspired me to stand up a lot more. So, when I say that I am a stand-up guy, this is a fact, not a boast.

In a post here, “Standing Up for Your Heart,” I reviewed a study by Alpa Patel, Ph.D., and her associates that explored the connection between sitting and mortality. They found that the amount of time people spend sitting is associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease, which happens to be the biggest complication of diabetes.

When I digested the impact of that study, it reinforced my long-standing plan of converting my computer time from sitting to standing. Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, was my original my model. Four years ago I wrote here about how he mounted his computer over a treadmill, and while he works, he walks at the rate of 0.7 miles per hour.

Even before reading the new study led by Dr. Patel, I had told Abhijit Mhapsekar, who programs my mendosa.com website, about walking on a treadmill while he worked. I knew that it would help heal his bad back. And Abhijit actually did get a treadmill with his computer mounted over a desk.

But I dawdled. My apartment doesn’t have enough room for a treadmill and treadmill desk in addition to the wonderful teak desk that I’ve had since 1969.

Instead, I priced stand-up desks on the Internet and a local store for me to use without a treadmill. Those desks run from $1,300 to $,2300. And they weren’t awfully stable.

Instead, I had a handyman make me a stand-up desk. It is as simple as possible: just two tracks screwed into the wall with three brackets that are adjustable (and I have already adjusted them), with a board 24 inches deep by 43 inches wide, large enough for one of my computers and accessories. The new desk ran me about $300 and is very stable. Anyone with more skill than I have could make one for much less.

When I commissioned my new stand-up desk, I expected to use it a small part of the time. In fact, I now use it much more than my old desk.

I also think more clearly when I am standing up. Judge for yourself. I wrote this standing.

As a writer, I have always known that I learn more from my articles than even the most diligent readers do. This is just like teachers learn more than their students because of all the preparation that goes into their lessons.

And as a caring person my goal in life is to help other people who like me have to live with diabetes. The Talmud says that “to save one person is to save the world,” and even if I haven’t moved you yet to stand up more, my review of Dr. Patel’s work already inspired both Abdijit and me to get off our butts more.

That’s not all. After I got my new stand-up desk I told Dr. Patel about it. “Congratulations! I hope to move from sitting on my exercise ball to a stand-up desk soon myself.”

Can I inspire you too?

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Exercise For Diabetes

Weight Control Registry

June 29th, 2010 · No Comments

The National Weight Control Registry is the best guide we have showing us how people actually lose weight and keep it off. These are the people who have succeeded in a major weight loss program and in keeping off the pounds.

Diabetes doctors typically tell us to loose 10 percent of our body weight. I know from my own experience that this helps to control our blood glucose level. And I know too that getting down to a normal body mass index, or BMI, is even better for maintaining a low A1C level.

The National Weight Control Registry started in 1994 and now tracks more than 5,000 people. And because I am one of them, the people at the registry sent me a copy of a publication that summarizes their findings as thanks for returning a one-year questionnaire. The article, “Long-term weight loss maintenance,” appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

To be included in the registry, people have to be at least 18 and have kept off at least 30 pounds for a year or more. I reached that milestone four years ago. And a couple of years ago my friend Gretchen Becker encouraged me to share my results with the registry.

I haven’t seen any statistics about how many of the people included in the registry have diabetes. But I know that my weight loss strategies have been different from most. Using Byetta got me started with my weight loss program, and a very low-carb diet intensified it.

Most people, however, say that they have lost weight by following a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Without question, weight loss means a low-calorie diet. Almost certainly, following a diet of any sort is also a key to success. In fact, participants who maintained a consistent diet during the week and year after year were much more likely to maintain their weight than those who varied their approach.

Other keys include:

Eating breakfast every day, followed by 78 percent of registry members.

High levels of physical activity. Fully 94 percent report that they get more exercise now than they did before they lost weight, and 90 percent report that on the average they exercise an hour a day. Walking is the most common activity, reported by 78 percent of the participants.

Regular weighing. More than 44 percent report that they weigh themselves at least once a day.

I know from my own experience that when my scales broke in February just before I went on a long trip that not weighing myself regularly was disastrous for my weight. In a three-month period I gained 12 pounds and am now fighting to take them off.

The really good news is that it gets easier. People who successfully maintained their weight loss for two to five years had a much greater chance of long-term success.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet, Exercise For Diabetes

Vacation Control

April 30th, 2010 · No Comments

At the end of my five-week vacation on the South Island of New Zealand I am returning to the reality of my everyday life with diabetes. For me, reality means controlling my blood glucose level with diet and exercise. Since 2007 I haven’t had to use any diabetes medications to keep good control.

But, like all of us, I do have to watch my diet and exercise. And like most people on vacation my attention sometimes wandered.

While I have diligently following a very low-carb diet since 2007, I readily admit that I enjoyed a few servings of potatoes in New Zealand. Worse, I ate two slices of toast. While I have broken my addiction to all types and forms of grain, the toast in eggs benedict was sometimes impossible for me to ignore.

On the other hand, I ate more seafood than ever before in my life. Seafood is our best source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. I ate everything from the well-known salmon, prawns, shrimp, oysters, and calamari to butterfish, groper, smooth dory, gurnard, ling, monkfish, and blue cod and on to fish I never heard of before — warehou, tarakihi, whitebait, bluenose, trumpeter, and green shell mussels. They all tasted wonderful to me while at the same time helping to balance out my dietary lapses.

Wild game also has a better ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats. That helped me to feel virtuous while enjoying a venison cassarole that a ranger on the Milford Track prepared for my lunch. I wrote about this and my other New Zealand adventures on my “Fitness and Photography for Fun ” blog.

Normally, I minimize the amount of fructose that I eat, since it’s so hard on the liver. I do eat some berries when I am at home. The berries that I especially enjoyed in New Zealand are called kiwiberries, miniature (grape-sized) versions of the kiwi fruit we have in America. But kiwiberries are especially sweet and juicy.

New Zealand is rightfully famous for its dairy products. I don’t think that the country has any of the infamous concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where we tightly pen our lifestock and chickens and feed them a grain diet, which in turn worsens our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

New Zealand dairy products are therefore not only healthier than most of ours but also taste better. I particularly enjoyed their cheese and their “Fresh’n Fruity” brand of natural (no fruit) Greek style yoghurt (as they spell it).

The other major deviation from my diet besides some additional carbohydrates was going back on coffee after almost a year without. I stopped drinking coffee because it was giving me awful headaches. But I can handle one cup a day now. I make sure that it’s a good cup, which the Kiwis do know how to make. In all the better restaurants I can find excellent coffee that is somewhat diluted espresso that for some reason the Kiwis call a “long black.”

In contrast to my somewhat slacker dietary habits on vacation I have been walking and hiking more than usual. I convinced myself that I need the extra calories to give me strength on the trail. I’m hoping that it has been a wash.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet, Exercise For Diabetes, People With Diabetes

Winter Walking Destinations

February 17th, 2010 · No Comments

This morning I got my exercise by shopping for food. After the weekend I didn’t have anything in my apartment that I wanted to eat for lunch and dinner.

So I walked about four and one-half miles to the nearest natural foods store, which is a Whole Foods Market. I picked up salad greens for lunch, grass-fed ground beef for dinner, and a few other items that I needed. Then, I walked back home with my groceries in my daypack.

This was a winter walking destination for me. During the rest of the year I get my exercise every other day or so with a long hike in the Rocky Mountains that rise just west of here. Now, in the winter, I still get up there, but on my snowshoes and less often than the hikes at other times of the year. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes

Exercise May Reduce Belly Fat

October 11th, 2009 · 3 Comments

When we have a lot of belly fat, we are at greater risk of heart disease because of the inflammatory molecules that this fat produces. But a new study by scientists at the University of Illinois suggests that even moderate amounts of exercise can reduce the inflammation.

Since people with diabetes are at an especially high risk of heart disease, this is an encouraging finding for us.

The study examined the effects of diet and exercise on the inflammation of visceral fat tissue — belly fat — in mice. Maybe people will react differently, but only the sedentary mice got the inflammation that usually results from having big bellies.

“The surprise was that the combination of diet and exercise didn’t yield dramatically different and better results than diet or exercise alone,” says Victoria Vieira, a University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate and the study’s lead author. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Exercise For Diabetes

Walking with Poles

July 14th, 2009 · No Comments

Walking is the exercise of choice for most people, especially when we would rather be outdoors than in a gym. Walking is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease, the biggest problem that those of us who have diabetes face.

If all we want to do is strengthen our lower body, we need only comfortable clothes and supportive footwear. But walking does little or nothing to strengthen the muscles of our upper body.

Unless we walk with poles, like Ken Mundt does.

“The advantage is that I get a whole upper body workout,” he told me when I called him at his home in Seattle. “My chest muscles get a good workout, because I don’t slam my poles. I place them, and then I push.” [Read more →]

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes

A Short Walk Goes a Long Way

July 8th, 2009 · 1 Comment

We can reverse one of the most common and insidious complications of diabetes when we walk just a little more. From 50 to 70 percent of people with type 2 diabetes and 95 percent of those who are obese have fatty liver. But up to 77 percent of people who have fatty liver don’t have any symptoms.

A study that the journal Hepatology just published in its July issue put 141 participants through an exercise program for three months. The participants had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), sometimes called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

If it leads to cirrhosis of the liver, it’s fatal, unless you are lucky enough to get a liver transplant. Liver transplants may be available for people under 70 and my wife was only 69 when her doctor told her that she had cirrhosis. But he also told her that her weight makes a successful transplant unlikely, so two years ago she died from this awful complication of diabetes. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Exercise For Diabetes

Choosing Exercise or Antioxidants

May 13th, 2009 · 8 Comments

Based on what I’ve read recently, some of which I have reported here, I’ve grown more and more wary of the wisdom of taking supplements. Few of the them seem to help.

And now comes a new study indicating that the two most common supplements can actually work against us. Those supplements are vitamins C and E.

It seems that we have a choice of exercising or taking large doses of those supplements. We know that exercise has lots of good effects like increasing our sensitivity to insulin, which is of great importance to all of us with diabetes.
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Posted in: Diabetes Medication, Exercise For Diabetes

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