Healthy lifestyles have never appeared more difficult to maintain. Our hectic schedules make it seem impossible to find time to exercise or prepare a healthy meal for our family.
The fact of the matter is that we all have the time and resources necessary to make smart choices to ensure a healthy future for our families and ourselves. The manufactured appeal of so-called “conveniences” put thousands at risk for developing preventable diseases, including Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious health condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, high blood pressure and blindness. Millions of Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, and 35 percent of all adults have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Nearly 15 percent of those considered pre-diabetic will progress to diabetes this year. Local organizations in the community have rallied to provide resources and programs to combat these startling statistics.
The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program is one such program created in partnership with UnitedHealth Group and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Program participants meet with trained lifestyle coaches who teach lessons about healthy eating, physical activity and other behaviors that can help reduce their risk for developing the disease.
You can take charge and reclaim your health by participating in similar prevention programs, or making a few simple swaps in your daily life.
• Take a walk. Experts recommend 150 minutes of weekly physical activity. Switch up your routine by walking on your lunch break or bicycling around the neighborhood with your family after work.
• Skip the drive-thru. It only takes a few minutes to prepare a healthy meal for your family, and your local grocery store is a great resource for quick, weeknight dinner recipes. In the time you spend waiting in the drive-thru line for your order, you could have enjoyed a fresh meal with your family. Enjoy one guilt-free home cooked meal and you’ll never think about those on-the-go meals again.
• Find support. Resources to help you succeed can be found right in your own community. Local organizations provide educational resources, and your friends and neighbors can help motivate you. Try meeting friends to walk together or host a healthy cookout to encourage others to enjoy nutritious new tastes.
Let’s change the way we think about health and wellness. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is achievable and together we can reduce our community’s risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Kelly Prather is the wellness operations director for the YMCA of Central Florida.