It is well known and widely accepted that a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet and regular participation in fitness activities such as brisk walking, can help reduce and prevent obesity in adults. In turn, this fitness-focused lifestyle can help prevent diseases and conditions associated with obesity – including type 2 diabetes.
Recently, research studies have begun to provide evidence of the link between physical fitness activities like walking and a reduced risk of diabetes. For instance, a 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal suggested that simply building up to 10,000 steps each day can help lower the risk of diabetes. However, a new study suggests that a healthy lifestyle can not only reduce the risk of developing diabetes, but it may also be effective actually sending type 2 diabetes into remission.
The recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 4,503 people with diabetes who were also overweight or obese. Individuals in the study were randomly assigned to an intensive “intervention” program that included exercise counseling, a goal of consuming 1200 to 1800 calories per day, and an exercise regimen that included just under three hours per week of physical activity.
After one year in this program, 11.5% of participants showed at least a partial remission of their diabetes – in other words, their blood sugar levels were below the diabetes threshold, even without their medication. In the control group who did not participate in the intervention, only 2% of participants saw improvement.
The results were not an unqualified success, however; over a four-year period of follow ups on participants, less than one third of those whose diabetes went into remission kept their blood sugar at the lowered level for at least four years. While 11.5% of participants experienced remission during the first year, in which they were involved in an intensive intervention program that included weekly counseling session for the first six months and 3 sessions per month over the next six months, they were unable to sustain the remission over the following three years, in which contact was reduced to twice monthly sessions.
While reasons for the failure to maintain the lower levels were not given in the study, reduced levels of intervention – and therefore reduced participation – may be at least a partial culprit. While occasional activity is better than none, the recommended level of fitness activity is 30 minutes each day, at least five days per week, of moderate activities such as brisk walking. Maintaining a high level of motivation has been shown to increase participation in fitness activities, including corporate wellness programs.
For some, motivation may come in the form of rewards or incentives. For others, motivation can be sparked by increasing the enjoyment of fitness and health-related activities through factors like social interaction or other enjoyable aspects. And for many, motivation relies in part on regular external reminders and encouragement. To keep your employees motivated, and help them reduce the risk of diabetes – or, as this study shows, even send current type 2 diabetes into remission – it’s important to employ a number of motivational sources. Discuss the options with your employees to find out what they want, and be sure to monitor the effectiveness of various incentives or programs. You may not only help your employees stay healthier in the future, but even help those with type 2 diabetes succeed in their battle against the disease.
At Walkingspree, we provide superior corporate wellness solutions centered on the numerous benefits of our corporate walking program. Our customized health and fitness solutions combine advanced monitoring and tracking technology with the built-in-fun of motivating incentives, rewards, and social interactions for programs that result in high engagement, healthier employees, and positive ROI. To learn more about the significant benefits that your company and your employees can realize with our corporate walking program, contact Walkingspree today.