Active Living Can Help Treat Prediabetes

Exercising on treadmills

Diabetes Prevention Program


If you have prediabetes, you are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. UW Health offers a program that can help.


Active Living and Learning for Diabetes Prevention is a program that focuses on lifestyle change through self-management to prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes in people with a borderline blood sugar or recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.


Learn more about the Active Living and Learning for Diabetes Prevention program


About Prediabetes


The American Heart Association estimates that 59.7 million Americans who are 20 years and older have prediabetes.


These people are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Long-term damage to the cardiovascular system may occur while a person has prediabetes, and a recent study indicates that prediabetes more than doubles the risk of death due to heart attack.


Insulin Resistance


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Both type 2 diabetes and prediabetes usually result from insulin resistance.


Insulin resistance, which is a condition that affects more than 60 million Americans, occurs when the body can't use insulin efficiently. To compensate, the pancreas releases more and more insulin to try to keep blood sugar levels normal. Gradually, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas become defective and ultimately decrease in total number. As a result, blood sugar levels begin to rise, causing prediabetes and, eventually, type 2 diabetes to develop.


When a fasting individual has too much glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia) or too much insulin in the blood (hyperinsulinemia), it indicates a person may have insulin resistance.


People with insulin resistance are also are more likely to have too much LDL ("bad") cholesterol, not enough HDL ("good") cholesterol, and high triglycerides, which cause atherosclerosis.


Risk Factors for Prediabetes


Risk factors for prediabetes include:

  • Over the age of 45
  • Overweight
  • Have a history of diabetes in your parents or siblings
  • African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian-American or a Pacific Islander
  • Have a previous report of high blood sugar (greater than 100 mg/dl)
  • Had gestational diabetes or had a baby greater than 9 lbs
  • Have high blood pressure (140/90 mg/dl or higher or on medication)
  • Have triglycerides above 250 mg/dl and/or HDL cholesterol less than 35 mg/dl
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Are fairly inactive or exercise fewer than three times per week
  • Inadequate sleep (less than 5.5 hours per night)


Untreated diabetes can lead to many serious medical problems, including heart disease and stroke. That's why it's important to be aware of the symptoms as well as the risk factors and to take appropriate steps to prevent and treat insulin resistance and diabetes.