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Receiving a Prediabetic Diagnosis Can Assist You In Achieving a Healthier Lifestyle

Helen Hopkins, aged 42, initially noticed feeling under the weather. “I experienced tingling sensations in my feet and hands, gained weight, and felt generally sluggish,” she remembers. Following a visit to her physician, she was surprised to find out that she had prediabetes. “I had a feeling that something was not right but couldn’t quite accept the diagnosis,” she explains.

Hopkins is one of the countless individuals worldwide dealing with diabetes or prediabetes. The number of diagnoses is increasing globally, and experts mostly attribute it to sedentary lifestyles, easily accessible and inexpensive food, and lack of time for physical activity. In Hopkins’ case, her daily habits significantly affected her health. “I was raised with the belief that the three Cs—cola, cake, and carbohydrates—would provide an energy boost,” she reflects. “So whenever I felt fatigued or stressed, which was frequent, I resorted to sugar.”

Altering her diet presented one challenge, while finding time for exercise posed another. Exercise plays a vital role in diabetes management; it regulates blood sugar levels by lowering insulin resistance, blood pressure, and cholesterol. However, juggling her own business and caring for a young family made it challenging for Hopkins to prioritize physical activity. Nevertheless, the prediabetes diagnosis motivated her to discover an enjoyable activity that she could sustain. Following her doctor’s advice, she began walking: initially for the school commute, then extending her steps gradually until she started noticing the benefits.

“Before long, I was walking great distances,” she recounts. “I found that my mental well-being improved significantly alongside my physical fitness. Being an over-thinker, walking provides me with the opportunity to just be myself.” She now participates in ultra walking, completing 50km events and training for a 100km ultra. “I see the prediabetic diagnosis as a blessing. Improving my fitness and well-being brought me clarity,” she affirms. “I even established my own wellness venture when I realized that there were many others in similar situations whom I could support.”

For individuals with diabetes or prediabetes like Hopkins, establishing a fitness regimen is more feasible when the chosen activities are enjoyable. Options may include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, or even gardening. Vanessa Haydock, also known as the Diabetic Health Coach, is a personal trainer, nutritional consultant, life advisor, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Coping with Type 1 diabetes herself, an intrinsic insulin-dependent form of diabetes, she emphasizes the significance of exercise in diabetes management. “People turn to me because I have the same condition,” she notes. “Together, we work on breaking down exercise barriers and gradually develop a new mindset to better care for ourselves—both physically and mentally.”

Those with a prediabetes or Type 2 diagnosis should consult a physician before initiating a fitness plan to properly address potential fluctuations in glucose levels. Once given the green light, various fitness activities can contribute to health improvement, with specific times of the day being more advantageous for exercise. For example, exercising after a meal offers superior glucose control and stability compared to remaining sedentary. Resistance training—such as bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and light free weights—alongside aerobic exercise is crucial. Since the heart is a muscle that requires activation, engaging in moderate to vigorous activity for 30 minutes every other day is recommended.

Discovering a prediabetic status may not excite anyone, but it shouldn’t be a cause for despondency. Instead, it could be an opportunity to exhibit self-compassion and experience enhanced well-being by integrating fitness and health into daily routines.

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