It's no longer a secret: regular physical activity allows you to stay in shape, boost your energy or feel better about yourself. But studies have shown that physical activity is also an essential weapon in the prevention of bone, neurodegenerative and chronic diseases such as diabetes, and more particularly type 2 diabetes. This disease, which accounts for 92% of diabetes cases, or almost 4 million French people, is favored by a sedentary lifestyle. And with an increase of 240,000 new cases per year, prevention is a major challenge to curb this epidemic-wide spread. This is why the incentive to move is in the spotlight of the prevention week organized by the French Federation of Diabetics from 2 to 9 June with the support of the Ministry of Health and the High Authority of Health (HAS).
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is characterized by a chronic excess of sugar in the blood due to insufficient production of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. "Without insulin, glucose is no longer sufficiently assimilated. It remains in the bloodstream and causes hyperglycemia which, in the long term, can lead to cardiovascular and renal complications, diabetic neuropathies and retinal damage," explains Dr. Jean-François Thébaut, cardiologist and spokesperson for the French Federation of Diabetics. And while "no one dies from diabetes in France," he continues, 34,000 deaths are still attributable each year to complications that result from it.
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Aiming for "glycemic control"
In general, the mechanisms involved in diabetes are very complex and vary from one individual to another: living conditions, socio-professional category, genetics ... However, there are several risk factors that can be acted upon, namely excess weight, an unbalanced diet and physical inactivity. The latter "reduces the occurrence of diabetes by 30 to 50%," says Dr. Jean François Thébaut.
Indeed, moving more improves insulin sensitivity and therefore promotes glucose management by the body, the goal being to achieve what is called a "glycemic balance". "Simply put, when you're active, cells use the sugar circulating in the blood before it turns into fat, which helps lower blood sugar. A balance is reached when energy expenditure compensates for intake." The repercussions of regular activity on health are then multiple: help maintain or lose weight, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. According to the cardiologist, this issue is all the more important for people with prediabetes, because they can avoid becoming one by making lifestyle changes. "Once diabetes is declared, however, there is no turning back," says the doctor.
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Remember, however, that exercise is not limited to sport. By this we mean all the actions of everyday life, "says Alexia Charvet, responsible for physical activity and advice on associative life at the French Federation of Diabetics. Thus, walking or cycling instead of taking the car, favoring the stairs to the elevator or gardening are all ways to increase your daily expenditure, "provided you reach at least 30 minutes a day according to medical recommendations," says Dr. Thébaut.
At a time when one in two French adults is overweight or obese, the prevalence of type II diabetes is rising sharply. To estimate your risk, it is possible to fill out the questionnaire available on the website of the French Federation of Diabetics. This 8-question test provides a level of risk (from low to high) based on age, body mass index, eating habits or family and personal history. Nevertheless, "it does not replace a medical diagnosis," insists Jean-François Thébaut. If diabetes is suspected, a blood test should be taken and a doctor consulted.