If you suffer from diabetes, you know you have a schedule of tests that need to be done each month, maybe each quarter, besides the weekly or even daily testing to make sure your blood sugar is NOT spiking. But a new study just out from the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research are seeing results that making those who do suffer from this malady smile a little more. This study Suggests Walking Programs May Help Reduce Health Care Costs for People with Diabetes. The study findings will be presented at the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting in San Diego during a paper session (titled “Can a Pedometer-Based Walking Program Lower Health Care Costs among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes?”) scheduled for 3 pm PT on March 31.
They found an association between participation in a walking program and a reduction in out-of-pocket health care expenses for people with diabetes. Walking programs using pedometers help people become more physically active by getting more steps each day. These types of programs improve daily physical activity among people with diabetes. Now we have all heard that we should try and join the 10,000 steps a day clubs that have sprouted up all over the country and internationally as well. But this study found that by taking at least 5,000 steps a day a person suffering from type 2 diabetes can actually lower their glucose levels proportionally to their weight, based on body mass, the level of intensity and distance.
Think about it, when you exercise your body uses energy in the form of glucose (sugar) just like your car’s engine uses gas to make it move. Now, just like your car, there are other factors in your body that need to be taken into consideration, like eating a well-balanced meal, low on sugar (carbs), higher in fiber (which make you feel fuller longer), good fats and lean protein. So that balance is important and you should be consulting your doctor before starting out on any exercise program. But your doctor will probably agree with the fact that walking is one of the best physical exercises you can begin because it is low impact on your legs and joints.
With type 2 diabetes, the body’s blood sugar goes too high, but exercise helps you use that sugar and, therefore, helps lower it. In fact, regular exercise can help improve your A1C, a test that measures your average blood sugar control over the past two to three months.
Study Shows a Savings in deductible:
Considering the trend in rising health care costs, the research team assessed the impact of a walking program on health care costs for people with diabetes. The research team examined step count data for 7,594 Blue Cross Blue Care Network (BCN) enrollees who participated in a walking program (Walkingspree) in 2010. Participants were eligible to join Walkingspree if their BMI was in the obese category. Individuals could potentially save an estimated 20% of their out-of-pocket expenses by uploading their step counts at least once every 30 days to the Walkingspree website and averaging at least 5,000 daily steps every three months. If they did not meet this requirement, they could not stay in the program and their deductible would increase to $5000. The researchers were able to compare the change in total annual health care costs for the year before and after starting the program.
Key research findings included:
Every additional 100 daily steps taken by participants was related to an average individual savings of $9.07.
On average, individuals without diabetes experienced greater total cost reductions compared to those with diabetes or diabetes with complications.
Among individuals who averaged at least 5,000 daily steps, the average expected a total change in annual health care costs was $872.67 for people with diabetes and $2491.88 for people with diabetes with complications. Although there is an expected increase in health care costs for the average person with diabetes, this increase is relatively smaller for those who averaged more daily steps.
Even though people with diabetes have greater health care costs, increasing daily steps may help slow the rate of costs increases over time.
So, now that the study has been completed, just what excuse do you have for NOT taking part in a walking program? Face it. This is a Win-Win program for not only you but also your family and friends, who want you to be around and living a good healthy lifestyle for as long as possible.
The first thing you need to get yourself motivated is a walking/distance goal. If your first starting out, don’t go crazy. Start walking for 15-20 minutes at a consistent pace, with which you can carry on a conversation. The key is consistency. You may want to start off, walking 2-3 times a week. In that time-frame, after you have done it for a week or so. Increase the duration of your walk by another 10 minutes. Try building up your walking time to 30 minutes at a time then expand to 45 and then to 60. Studies show that walking 150 minutes per week can significantly help you improve your body’s functions of turning that glucose into usable energy, thus lowering your A1C by default.
The second thing you need and the third are a good pair of walking shoes, ones that provide good arches and support as you trudge along your path to a healthier you. See your local shoe store, if you don’t have one, go to an athletic store, one that specializes in not only sports but fitness and has the knowledge you need to be fitted out properly with the right pair of shoes.
The third is a good accurate pedometer. We can help you there since we carry a full line of the best pedometers on the market. Just click this link and select the one that you think is right for you. One thing to keep in mind, since this is a serious endeavor for you, choose a pedometer that not only tracks your steps, but a multi-function pedometer that provides, steps, distance and calories burned. As you progress, you can think about getting a higher end activity monitor that can provide all the necessary data with which you can use to set newer and higher goals that you can accomplish.
The key is to get moving, get active, get healthy. And by doing so, you just might be able to keep a little green paper, there in your wallet.