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What’s more startling than the fact that 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes? The fact that half of them don’t know they have it.

Diabetes can go undetected for weeks, months, even years, allowing the disease to cause harm to your organs and nervous system. The good news is that living a healthy, active life, and following a complete and wholesome diet can not only prevent at-risk individuals from developing diabetes, but it can be your #1 ally in helping manage the disease if you are diagnosed.

November is American Diabetes Month, and we wanted to present you with actionable fitness and health tips, giving you the best tools to make empowered health decisions.

What is diabetes?

In America, diabetes is an epidemic. It’s a chronic health condition that impacts your insulin production—the hormone responsible for converting sugar from food into energy.

There are three categories of the disease. With type 1 diabetes, your body cannot make insulin, and you need to take it everyday to survive. With type 2 diabetes, your body can still make insulin, but it needs to be monitored. With prediabetes, you might still produce insulin, but not enough to keep the blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

Both type 2 and prediabetes can be delayed—even prevented—with the following recommendations.

Have a regular workout schedule

Scheduling your workouts (better yet, with a trainer) can hold you accountable and ensure you’re engaging in regular, high-intensity exercise.

The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. This should be spread out over a period of three or four days, with no more than two days of rest in between.

If you’re not sure how or where to start, start slow and amp up your efforts over time. Signing up for fitness classes can greatly help you plan and meet your exercise goals, and ensure you’re striking a balance between cardiovascular and strength training workouts.

How exercise can prevent diabetes

Building muscle and cardiovascular exercises are key to improving insulin health, because they improve your body’s insulin sensitivity and stabilize your blood sugar levels.

Resistance and weight training contribute to building lean muscle mass, which supports your overall metabolism. That’s because you’re training your body to store sugar in your muscles, rather than the bloodstream.

Working out also targets three big red flags. High blood pressure, cholesterol, and belly fat are another trifecta that makes individuals prime targets for developing diabetes.

“Exercise hits all three of these birds with one stone,” says Lex, one of our trainers at Bayshore Fit in South Tampa. Lex is a registered dietician and helps many people manage type 1, type 2, and prediabetic conditions in Tampa.

Lifestyle choices that prevent diabetes

Regular screening is key, so make sure you’re partaking in annual blood work and discussing your concerns with your doctor.

Other healthy lifestyle choices to avoid, delay, or prevent diabetes altogether include quitting smoking, avoiding heavily processed or fried foods, and of course—sugary foods.

Instead, electing for a varied diet of whole foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, can combat prediabetics and at-risk individuals.

Even though everything you eat eventually is converted into sugar (glucose) for energy, whole foods take much longer because they’re more complex, making your body work harder and longer to access the energy. This helps keep your blood sugar levels at a more stable range.

On the other hand, processed sugar, syrups, and confections flood the bloodstream with glucose immediately, spiking your levels and causing your body to go on overdrive.

Start fighting diabetes today

Chances are that you know someone who has diabetes, even though they might not know it. Take power into your own hands and elect for a healthy, active lifestyle for years to come.

Sign up at Bayshore Fit to get access to all their fitness classes, trainers, and all the best tools to make your health goals a success.