Around the world, over 420 million people live with diabetes and this number is gradually rising. It is estimated that by 2026, 4.9 million Canadians will be living with the disease. Diabetes becomes more prevalent with advancing age, with type 2 diabetes accounting for most cases. While blood sugar monitoring is an important and well-known aspect of care, diabetes requires lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of health complications such as heart disease, and nerve, kidney, eye, and foot damage. Exercising regularly, leaning on your peers for support, and leveraging technology are three strategies you can add to your self-management toolkit.
Exercising regularly is an important part of living an overall healthy lifestyle. It helps to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Aerobic exercises performed over longer periods of time can be especially helpful for lowering blood sugar levels. Slower-paced activities, such as yoga and tai chi, have also been shown to improve blood sugar control and decrease blood pressure. Whether you prefer the intensity of an aerobic workout, or the slow, gentle pace of a yoga practice, incorporating exercise into your day is an important part of managing diabetes.
Use your peers for support
Research shows that peer support may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, compared with people who receive standard diabetes care. More frequent peer support sessions (at least 1-2 times per month) and the inclusion of one-on-one support (vs. group support or a combination of the two) are the most effective in lowering blood sugar. People who have higher blood sugar levels or poor blood sugar control to begin with may benefit the most. During difficult times like these, when it is not possible to meet in person, accessing peer support virtually can still be meaningful.
Harness the power of technology
Research has shown that technology, such as pedometers and fitness trackers, can help improve diabetes outcomes by improving blood sugar levels and certain aspects of blood pressure. Mobile phone apps have also shown to be effective at controlling blood sugar levels while providing remote access to feedback from health care providers.
Adding these strategies to your self-management toolkit can help people with diabetes manage the disease more effectively while contributing to their overall health and well-being. To learn more about managing diabetes, read through our resources below.