"Time and Tide Wait for No Man"- Geoffrey Chaucer, English Poet and Author
The pandemic has been relentless in its progression. As wave after wave sweeps across the world, the entire machinery of our country's health care system too has swung into action. The focus, rightly so, has been on oxygen, ventilators, vaccination and most importantly, on reinforcing measures like social distancing and masking.
A dangerous pandemic is going on. At the same time, this does not mean that the non-COVID related illness will wait! Under the tsunami induced by the coronavirus, lurks a silent wave; a tidal wave of non-communicable illnesses such as Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and psychiatric illnesses. And like Geoffrey Chaucer's quote above, this wave too will not wait for any virus to go away.
Among the non-communicable diseases listed above, Diabetes is an important one, as it affects more than 430 million people worldwide. Untreated Type 2 Diabetes may cause catastrophic damage to the eyes, feet, heart and kidney. In addition, high blood glucose itself makes people susceptible to infections like COVID-19. Because of social restrictions and the subsequent impact on mental health, nutrition and physical activity, research studies have predicted that diabetes control could worsen during the pandemic. The social, economic and health-related impact of diabetes and its complications is something that our country can ill afford at this time.
There are no easy solutions. Consulting a doctor can help to adjust medications and their dosages. But the control of high blood glucose also depends on day-to-day efforts by the individual. Meditation, Yoga, helping people in need and practising spirituality may help alleviate stress. Steps to improve home nutrition are also important and have been highlighted in many publications.
One area that requires closer attention is at-home physical activity, or WFH (Workout From Home!). It is a myth to believe that a workout needs either open spaces for running/swimming or the closed confines of a luxurious gymnasium. There are very simple workouts that can be practised even in a one-room studio apartment. There are free apps on the internet that promise to give us a workout in just a few minutes - an example is the popular 7-minute-workout app. On a lighter note, the apps can only guide us; we have to do the workout ourselves!
For those with access to more space and facilities, setting up a small home gymnasium at a reasonable cost is still possible, as mentioned in our cover story. Sometimes, the innovative use of furniture or equipment already available at home can also help you get a good workout. A recent research paper highlights that better physical activity may even offer some protection against COVID-19 as well.
Exercising at home can help control blood glucose levels. Exercise also releases helpful chemicals in the brain that make us happy, thus relieving stress. Of course, all exercise has to be carried out via professional advice.
We at Diabetes Health strive to bring you the best of lifestyle advice - so that you can effortlessly surf over waves of illnesses, and stay healthy and happy.
Dr Unnikrishnan AG