If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or have risk factors for type 2 diabetes, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing the condition. These steps include:

Regular Exercise and Weight Loss

Insulin is a hormone produced in the body. It helps glucose move out of the blood and into body tissue for use as energy. Excess body weight makes your tissues less responsive to insulin. This can lead to high blood sugar. By losing weight, your body tissues will be more sensitive to insulin and better able to use insulin. Studies suggests that you can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% through moderate, sustained weight loss (between 4%-5% weight loss for three years) and daily exercise.

Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes in two ways:

  • Exercise alone lowers blood sugar levels by making your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Regular exercise will help you lose weight. In combination with regular exercise, eating a healthy, reduced-calorie diet is an essential part of losing and maintaining a healthy weight.

Heart disease is a common complication of diabetes. Regular exercise can help lower the levels of fat and cholesterol in your blood and lower your blood pressure. This will decrease your risk for heart disease.

Choose exercises that you enjoy. Make it part of your daily routine. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For most people, this could include walking briskly or participating in another aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes per day.

Before you start any exercise program, talk to your doctor. It is important that you wear a diabetes identification bracelet when you exercise.

Medications

Metformin

Metformin (Glucophage) has been shown to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 31%. This medicine is used to treat type 2 diabetes, but may be a good option if you have risk factors that you cannot change through lifestyle modifications. These risk factors include family members with type 2 diabetes, a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a history of gestational diabetes, or if you are a member of an ethnic group that is at higher risk, including:

  • African American
  • Hispanic American
  • Pima Indians
  • Native American
  • Asian American
  • Pacific Islander

Rosiglitazone

Rosiglitazone (Avandia) has also been shown to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes in patients over the age of 30 with insulin resistance. Although, it may slightly increase the risk of heart failure.

Acarbose

Acarbose has been shown to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 25% in people at high risk for the condition.

Talk to your doctor about whether these preventive measures are right for you.

A Combination Approach

If your doctor has identified you as being at risk for type 2 diabetes, you may be able to lower your risk by:

  • Drinking alcohol in moderation—This means two drinks per day for a man, and one drink per day for a woman.
  • Taking medicine
  • Making lifestyle changes (eg, exercising and eating a healthy diet)