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November is American Diabetes Month!

Yesterday was Halloween, and although I don’t want to be a “party pooper” and understand how much fun the holiday can be— I have to say, seeing so many children walking around with bags of candy—who also appear to be moderately or morbidly obese was disheartening. Ironically, today, the day after Halloween, starts the beginning of American Diabetes Month. So, I’d like to focus today’s blog on diabetes, and more importantly, how we can prevent or slow down the disease with physical activity.

Diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed by properly managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eating healthy, being physically active and quitting smoking also can help lower the risk of diabetes complications.


  • Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
  • Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes.

The Toll on Health

  • Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and of new cases of blindness among adults.
  • The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without diabetes.
  • About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.

How Can Physical Activity Help?

  • Keep blood glucose, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides on target
  • Lowers risk for pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke
  • Relieves stress, strengthens your heart, muscles and bones
  • Improves your blood circulation and tones your muscles
  • Keeps your body and your joints flexible

I’m curious to know how many of our Personal Trainers are working with clients who have diabetes or prediabetes? Please share your experiences and success stories so we can all learn from you. I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can to reduce the prevalence of this serious disease. Please share!

If you want to learn more about exercise program design for individuals with diabetes, please check out our online course, Exercise Program Design for Special Populations. We have a section completely dedicated to Diabetes. Also, our Personal Trainer Certification and Older Adult Exercise Specialist Certification touch on the importance of safe and effective exercise to prevent and slow down this disease.

For more information about Diabetes and American Diabetes Month, please visit




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6 thoughts on “November is American Diabetes Month!

  1. Diabetes was just a awful disease until I came across it first hand 4 years. One of my friends got the word that he had it. We all saw him losing weight and looking frail. I saw him go from a healthy strong active 215lb person to a shell of his formal self in less than 12 months. Why? I found out that he was not taking his insulin due to the costs. He gave up his gym membership due to losing his job so his activity stopped too. It turns out he was too proud to let anyone know of his dilemma. His friends and family all noticed the loss of weight, loss of teeth but wow this disease was taking it out of him. It turns out he could not afford the insulin after losing his job and insurance. I would ask him if his blood sugar level was good and he would say yes. We went to a movie one afternoon and I had to guide him into his seat. His eyes were going too. Later I found out he had TOTALLY stopped taking his insulin due to the costs. Next thing you know he passed out at his daughters wedding and had his foot amputated. In less than a year he was legally blind with half a foot, underweight by 70 lbs, missing teeth and he lost both his kidney’s to function. He is now on dialysis 2 times a week for the rest of his life. The doctors got him on a free medical program to provide education, nutrition and insulin. You hear about this disease all the time. I witnessed how fast a type II diabetic went to a type I diabetic in less than 6 months without any proactive care. Scary and sad for a divorced 55 year old man with 2 kids.

    Let’s reflect as fitness professionals as to our knowledge to really help clients as they come into the door. We are on the front line as fitness professionals. Do we have the knowledge and background to help our clients gain control of the disease in a proper way. Don’t guess at an approach but get the continuing education and knowledge to help. My friend was scared and too proud to ask for help. Let’s hold back this wave of new on set diabetics so no other families are turned upside down due to ignorance. We are on the front lines and this is a growing trend for all kinds of reasons. Be prepared to help any and all clients be proactive instead of reactive. Quality of life is everything. Use this month to get prepared for 2014.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Jay. You are absolutely correct. With education individuals with diabetes can learn to enjoy a full, healthy life–and we as fitness professionals, have the responsibility to gain the knowledge to help and support our clients and all members of our community.

  2. I became a type II diabetic before I became a personal trainer. At one point I too lost my insurance and could not afford the medication to control my diabetes. My only defense was my diet and exercise. My sugar levels tend to rise, not fall due to diet. I read several books on the types of food that have the greatest impact on my sugar levels. The glycemic load became a big part of my life. It’s a great resource and they have pocket guides to take with you anywhere. Once I stayed away from flour and sugar products my glucose levels leveled out dramatically. I had read in one book about how your quad muscles are responsible for insulin resistance. If you don’t work your leg muscles, your resistance shuts off like a switch. But if you work those muscles it turns back on just the same. It has to do with the mitochondria in the cells of those muscles. So exercise such as walking can have a dramatic effect on your blood glucose levels. I brought my A1C down from 10.1 to 8.2 in less than two months just with diet and exercise. Also, if your glucose levels are constantly spiking, it makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. These are the things I share with my diabetic clients.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge! Congratulations on your personal successes–and good for you for passing along such great information and being a wonderful role model for your clients!

  3. I work a few hours per week in the DC VA Med Ctr, training wounded warriors in martial arts & general fitness. Most of my students/patients/clients are blind or low-vision. Several of those are from diabetic retinopathy.

    One of these diabetics recently had “an eye attack”, which left his vision degraded by another step. There is no getting better from that — once its gone, its gone. During one of our group training sessions about 2 weeks before his eye attack, I happened to notice that he had lost feeling in several of his toes (yes, we train barefoot). I advised him to check his glucose levels right after class (something he does not regularly monitor), so he went up to the nutrition clinic, & whatever they saw, they adjusted his meds. After his eye attack, he was assessed in the vision clinic, & they reported that we had actually saved him a few days of clearer vision by spotting the neuropathic symptom.

    This may not seem like much, but the symptoms are taught in the diabetic fitness CEU class (IDEA?) that I had taken for my previous WITS recert — That, and we got lucky!

    … hope this note can help someone else!

    1. Thanks for writing, Mark. What an experience! Thank goodness you had the training and expertise to know how to recognize and respond to the symptoms. It’s especially challenging to pay close attention to all participants in a group exercise setting. Awesome that you were there! Thank you for being such a fabulous professional! I hope you keep contributing to this blog and sharing your experience!

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