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It's Not Too Late to Prevent Diabetes

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It's Not Too Late to Prevent Diabetes

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It's Not Too Late to Prevent Diabetes

This tip sheet helps older adults at risk for type 2 diabetes move more and eat less to lower their risk for diabetes.

Last reviewed: 02/02/2012

Tips for older adults at risk for type 2 diabetes

As you get older, your risk for type 2 diabetes increases. Being overweight or having a family history of type 2 diabetes also increases your risk. Take these small steps to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Lose a modest amount of weight (10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person) by moving more and making healthy food choices.

photos of elderly people

Start now to get moving and have fun!

Physical activity can improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. Set small goals to start. Add a little more activity each day until you reach at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

WARM UP. Warm-ups get your body ready for physical activity. Shrug your shoulders, tap your toes, swing your arms, or move in place. Warm up for a few minutes before any activity.

STRETCH. Stretching can help you be more flexible. It can make it easier for you to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back up the car. Stretch when your muscles are warm. Don’t stretch so far that it hurts.

Find an activity you enjoy:

  • Brisk walking is a great way to be active. Be sure you have proper walking shoes. Walk in safe places, such as indoor or outdoor walking paths, a shopping mall, or a community center.
  • Dancing is also a fun way to be active. Get off the couch, turn on the music, and move.

Easy steps to increase daily activity!

  • Put away the remote control — get up to change the TV channel. Stretch during commercial breaks.
  • Walk around the house while you talk on the phone.
  • Take more steps by parking the car farther away from stores, movie theaters, or your office.
  • Get off the bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way, if it is safe.

Eat right to prevent type 2 diabetes!

  • Reduce the amount of food you eat to help with weight loss.

man fixing a salad

Choose Healthy Foods:

  • Whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread, crackers, and cereals, and brown rice, oatmeal, and barley.
  • A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Small portions of heart-healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
  • Low fat or skim milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Try these tips:

  • Eat portions to three ounce servings of meat, poultry, and fish — about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Choose fish and lean meat and poultry without the skin.
  • Choose foods that have been baked or broiled instead of fried.
  • Limit sweets and desserts. They usually contain a lot of fat as well as sugar. Have a small serving at the end of a healthy meal — and not every day.
  • Share large portions when eating out.
  • When your grandkids visit, offer them healthy snacks such as fruit instead of cookies and chips.
  • Choose water to drink.
  • Eat breakfast every day.

Get your friends and family involved!

  • Show the younger people in your life the dances you enjoy.
  • Teach your grandkids how to plant and take care of a garden.
  • Go for a swim together. Moving about in the water is a great activity that is gentle on your joints.
  • Enjoy a walk with friends or family around a museum, zoo, or nature park.

photos of elderly people 2

Doctor checking blood pressureRemember

  • Ask your doctor or health care team if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Let them know you want to be more active. If you have physical limitations, ask which activities will be safe for you.
  • Make healthy food choices and reduce the amount you eat.
  • Your goals are to get 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and to lose a modest amount of weight, if overweight.
  • Medicare offers a free blood glucose test for people at risk for diabetes. Visit or call 1–800–MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to learn more.

It may not be easy to make these lifestyle changes, but you can do it!

Take your first step today

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