Dominating Diabetes

Charlotte Driver:

Nearly 1.9 million Americans are diagnosed with type one diabetes, and although it’s thought to primarily be a disease discovered in childhood, Marie Gazzillo ‘23 did not discover she had the condition until her freshman year of college. She notes that being a college student amplifies the difficulties
she already experiences living with her diabetes because of the stress, limited sleep, busy schedule, and lack of food options. She is always on the lookout for new workouts and daily routines that will help regulate her blood sugar levels in a way that is more convenient and requires less constant attention.

Recently, Gazzillo has discovered a new approach to her workouts and daily routine that has reduced the spikes in her blood sugar. This routine consists of going for a walk in the mornings and then eating a protein-heavy breakfast which stabilizes her blood sugar and lowers her anxiety. “A morning walk gives body and mind time to wake up, and I can determine whether I’m going to need a full breakfast or a power bar.” After implementing this new morning routine for about two weeks, Gazillo has already noticed a significant improvement in her blood sugar levels throughout the first half of the day. For example, two weeks ago she was waking up with blood sugar levels of around 200, which is high for the morning (after fasting), however, after just an hour of being awake and walking these levels dropped to 120, giving Marie the opportunity to enjoy a full breakfast, which will help regulate her blood sugar for the rest of the morning. Now, Gazzillo is waking up consistently with blood sugar levels around 120 and has noticed that these levels stay much more consistent throughout the night, eliminating her early morning blood sugar alerts that force her to get out of bed and eat something.

Gazzillo also says that walking in the morning helps her to be motivated and productive throughout the day, which leads to less stress, eliminating one of the factors that so heavily affect her blood sugar. There has been plenty of research done on how meditation and mild aerobics in the morning can have mood-enhancing benefits and push back on the impacts of mood-related disorders like depression and anxiety, as Edwards and Loprinzi wrote in Health Promotion Perspectives. “Usually when I’m walking, I can create a to-do list for the day, which allows me to get an idea of what my day will look like. This also helps me plan out when I’m gonna work out, and what type of workout I’m gonna do, and recently I’ve been doing a new workout in the gym that has really helped with my blood sugar levels.” Gazzillo’s new gym routine focuses on lifting weights rather than heavy cardio because it’s a more sustainable way of burning calories without overexerting her energy and draining her blood sugar levels. “I still sometimes have to stop midway through the workout to eat some sugar or drink a Gatorade, however, it only happens about two times a week rather than every day, which is a huge improvement to me.”

There are limitations to Marie Gazzillo’s solution. For example, for this new routine to remain effective one must stay consistent, and not everyone has time to build journaling and workout time into their schedule every day. If someone has a busy schedule or a random extra busy day and they can only incorporate one of these into their routine, it might not be effective with only one or the other. On top of this, everyone’s body is different, so what works for one person, might not work for another. However, it’s still worth a shot if you’re looking for new ideas to help regulate your blood sugar.