Dog Walking can Help Avoid Diabetes

 

Exercise and health have been closely linked for many years. In recent decades there has been the creation of many labour saving devices both around the home, on the land and also related to travel that has resulted in the human body generally burning less calories. This can cause an increase in weight because generally calorie intake has not reduced in the same proportion as the reduction in calories being burnt. Consideration of calorie intake and calorie output is called calorie balance. When the balance is equal a steady weight is maintained, imbalance causes either weight gain or weight loss. Impact on health depends on each individual.

Calorie balance in the body is hugely important when we are considering health. An excess in calories eaten or drunk can cause an increase in weight in particular around the central part of the body making some people appear rounder. This is called central obesity.

Central fat lies on the inside of the abdominal muscle layer of the front of the body. It is an substance which has been shown to produce hormones. These hormones can affect the way in which many processes occur within the body. This can result in an increase in fat in different areas of the body and in addition to, or with poor lifestyle choices lead to the development of increasing risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, unbalanced cholesterol levels, heart disease and stroke, this is in addition to feeling more lethargic, often low in mood and so the person is even less likely to be active.

The rate of obesity is, as we all know increasing dramatically in the United Kingdom along with this type 2 diabetes is also increasing. One of the reasons is because a person is born with a certain number of cells that produce insulin this is based on their genes and the environmental factors which affected previous generations. It hasn't taken much time for the revolution in technology to make us increase in weight but it will take generations before our genes evolve to enable the human body to adapt to such change. Other risk factors for type 2 diabetes can be found on the Diabetes UK website (www.diabetes.org.uk).

Prevention or delay in onset of diabetes is possible in some people. People who are at greater risk can be seen on the Diabetes UK website further advice can also be found on this website.

If a person increases in weight then there is a greater need for an increase in hormones for that larger body mass. At an individually specific weight, which can not be foreseen, the body may be unable to produce enough hormones for the larger body size. At this time health problems can begin to develop. The development of such health problems is generally silent and unless specific health checks are needed, then health problems may not be discovered. Until much later when damage can have occurred.

Diabetes is such a condition. It can be present without the person being aware of it but the damaging effects can still occur. Some people do get symptoms of high blood glucose levels such as thirst- which is difficult to satisfy, increased frequency of passing urine day or night, fatigue, falling asleep easily, genital infections such as thrush and weight loss in some circumstances. There are different types of diabetes, it is type 2 diabetes that is specifically related to weight. As a person increases in weight then the body may not be able to produce enough insulin for the bodies size ( insulin deficiency) or the body may not respond to the insulin that is being produced in the expected way ( insulin resistance). As insulin helps to transport glucose from the blood stream into the bodies tissues, it makes sense that if an inadequate amount of insulin is present, then blood sugar levels will increase. It is this increase in blood sugar levels that leads to complications of diabetes. Often these can be avoided by the early diagnosis and good management of diabetes.

Diabetes can be managed by using different families of medication, but always dietary changes and activity are important part of every day management.

Dietary advice generally involves reduction in portion sizes for those who may be over weight and reduction in the freely available sugar taken in the diet. Portion sizes of carbohydrates such as starches found in bread, root vegetables, rice and pasta often need to be reduced as all of these increase the workload for the insulin in the body. Individual advice should be obtained from your local practice.

Activity is an important part of our bodies daily needs. It is needed in order to stay healthy or to improve our health. If we deny our bodies daily activity it is likely to lead to problems which reduce physical and mental health in both the short and the long term. Although activity is encouraged at an individually appropriate level, it is important that if a person has not participated in regular gentle activity for some time that they speak to their registered General Practitioner or practice nurse before beginning and then gradually increase the level of activity over a period of time in line with an agreed management plan. A person should never believe that because they were once fit and active that they can simply return to the level they were at before they stopped, this can lead to serious and acute problems.

Regular activity helps to raise mood through socialisation and meeting friends. As this comment piece form part of the ‘Where to Walkies’ web site consideration of the impact of dog walking is timely. An ideal activity is dog walking. Daily dog walks will allow us to invigorate our bodies, increasing the supply of blood carrying oxygen to the bodies muscles and brain. Working the muscles helps with calorie balance and can also help the insulin available to be more effective and so gradually reduces blood glucose levels. This is likely to have a positive effect on the rest of the day! More than one dog walk a day will increase the benefits! The government currently suggest levels of activity that a healthy person should take this is now broken down into age ranges, children up to the age of 19 years, 19- 64 years and 65 years and over this can be viewed on the NHS Choices web site. Regular dog walks will help you achieve your exercise targets.