By Kelly DiNardo
In 2015, the American Diabetes Association hosted the inaugural “Get Fit Don’t Sit” Day to get people up and moving to bring awareness to type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 30 million Americans have diabetes (1 in 10), and 90% to 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. These statistics are consistent for St. Clair County residents too, as approximately 10% of our residents have been diagnosed with diabetes. But the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment of St. Clair County exposed a frightening statistic that we all need to be aware of. When the mortality rate data was reviewed from 2011-2015 from diabetes, it revealed that people who live in St. Clair County die from diabetes at a rate of 36.3 (per 100,000 per year) when the rest of our fellow Michiganders fare better (at a rate of 23.3). You may be asking yourself why our county isn’t doing so well when it comes to diabetes, and the healthcare community is asking too.
In type 2 diabetes people develop insulin resistance, meaning the cells in the body no longer responds to insulin as it should. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that lets blood sugar into the cells for use as energy. The pancreas works to regulate blood sugar levels but the cells “resist,” not letting the blood sugar into the cells, so the pancreas responds by making more insulin and eventually, it just can’t keep up. As a result, every cell within the body is exposed to chronic high levels of blood sugar, which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop over several years without being noticed, and sometimes there aren’t any noticeable symptoms at all. Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes include: urinating frequently (often at night), feeling very thirsty, and losing weight without trying. Other symptoms can be vague, and therefore it is important to schedule regular appointments with your doctor, so you can be screened for diabetes.
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Research indicates that changing sedentary habits is one of the most effective ways to prevent type 2 diabetes, along with eating healthier and losing weight if you’re overweight. You’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, over age 45, have prediabetes, have a family history of diabetes, if you have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
In 2011, the St. Clair County Healthy Lifestyles Workgroup was formed with the mission to create a culture where all residents of the community are empowered by community resources. The workgroup has representation from a variety of community agencies that are involved in or promote healthy lifestyles. Over the years, the group has supported walking clubs and community education programs. The group remains focused on diabetes prevention initiatives as well as diabetes programs that can help those manage the condition.
The Healthy Lifestyles Workgroup brings a focus on physical activity into the workplace by promoting the national Get Fit Don’t Sit day, on Wednesday, May 1. They are encouraging everyone to get up and move at least once every 30 minutes throughout the workday and take a walk anywhere – your neighborhood, at the park, at work, or join a sponsored walk. Sponsored walks are occurring throughout the county including Clay Township Park, Columbus County Park, Wadhams to Avoca Trail, and the YMCA lobby throughout the day. As well as special gatherings at: 12 Noon at McLaren Port Huron’s courtyard, at 12:30 p.m. at Lake Huron Medical Center’s North Campus, 3:00 p.m. in the lobby of the Port Huron Municipal Office Center, or at 4:30 p.m. at the River Walk at the north entrance arch. All events are free. For more information, contact the YMCA of the Blue Water Area at 810-987-6400.
If you want to continue to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes beyond May 1, gather up your friends or co-workers and join the Blue Water Walking Club. The walking club was formed to improve the health of our community in partnership with the St Clair County Medical Society Foundation, the YMCA of the Blue Water Area, and the Healthy Lifestyles Workgroup. Each walking group must have at least 5 to 10 participants and must walk a minimum of 30 minutes three to five days a week for 6 to 8 weeks. One representative from the group can register for the club (before June 5) at: https://www.bluewaterymca.com/programs/blue-water-walking-club.html. All participants will receive health information on the benefits of walking as well as information on events in our area via email. For updates, join the Facebook page by searching Blue Water Walking Club.
Kick-start your health and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Get Fit, Don’t Sit!
Originally published April, 2019