It's no longer a secret: practicing regular physical activity helps you 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 represents 92% of cases of diabetes, 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 spread of epidemic proportions. This is why the incentive to move is in the spotlight of the prevention week organized by the French Federation of Diabetics from June 2 to 9 with the support of the Ministry of Health and the High Authority for Health (HAS).
Type 2 diabetes is a disease characterized by a chronic excess of sugar in the blood due to insufficient production of insulin, the blood sugar regulating hormone. “Without insulin, glucose is no longer sufficiently assimilated. It remains in the bloodstream and causes hyperglycaemia 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 if "no one dies of diabetes in France", he continues, 34,000 deaths are still attributable each year to the complications resulting from it.
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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 on which it is possible to act, namely excess weight, unbalanced diet and physical inactivity. The latter "reduces the occurrence of diabetes by 30 to 50%", underlines Dr. Jean François Thébaut.
Indeed, moving more improves insulin sensitivity and therefore promotes the body's management of glucose, the objective being to achieve what is called "glycemic balance". “Simply put, when you're active, the 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 the state of health are therefore multiple: helping to maintain or lose weight, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease or even high blood pressure. According to the cardiologist, this issue is all the more important for people with prediabetes, because they can avoid becoming diabetic by modifying their lifestyle. “Once diabetes has declared, however, there is no going back”, underlines the doctor.
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“Remember, however, that exercising is not limited to sport. By this we mean all the actions of everyday life, ”says Alexia Charvet, head of physical activity and community life advice at the French Federation of Diabetics. Thus walking or cycling instead of taking the car, taking the stairs rather than the lift or even gardening are all ways of increasing your daily expenditure, "provided you reach at least 30 minutes per 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 its risk, it is possible to fill in the questionnaire accessible on the site 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, dietary habits, and family and personal history. Nevertheless, "it does not replace a medical diagnosis", insists Jean-François Thébaut. In case of suspicion of diabetes, it will be necessary to take a blood test and consult a doctor.