American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day

Read ahead to learn about Type 2 Diabetes, understand the relationship between Type 2 Diabetes and Parkinson disease, and to find resources to keep yourself healthy when living with one or both of these diseases.

American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day is the fourth Tuesday of March. The American Diabetes Association uses this day as a “wake-up call” to the general population to explain the seriousness of diabetes and alert people to ways to assess if you could have diabetes (Diabetes Alert Day | NIDDK, n.d.)

When you have Type 2 Diabetes, the body fails to produce enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels in a normal range. Over time, keeping your blood glucose levels higher than normal can lead to higher risk of stroke and heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, foot problems, and sexual and bladder dysfunction. Type 2 diabetes has also been linked to higher rates of depression and dementia, both of which are more common in people with Parkinson disease. (Type 2 Diabetes | NIDDK, n.d.)

More importantly, researchers have found that people with Type 2 diabetes showed a 28% higher risk of developing Parkinson disease (Yue et al., 2016). In addition to being at higher risk, those that do develop PD may experience a more challenging course of their disease. However, researchers don’t know exactly the role that diabetes and PD play when it comes to how each disease is triggered. We do know that chronic body inflammation occurs in both PD and Type 2 diabetes, and that abnormal dopamine levels can occur in both diseases (Friederich et al., 2009; Henchcliffe & Beal, 2008). Getting your blood glucose levels to a normal level can reduce the stress to your body – in both PD and Type 2 diabetes.

Here is the great news for you:

Exercise is one of the BEST interventions that we have to combat the motor and non-motor symptoms of PD, as well as to regulate blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity in people with Type 2 diabetes. Read below to find resources for how to assess your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, how to pick good food choices to keep your blood glucose stable, and how to pick the best types of exercise if your blood glucose isn’t normal.


At the PWR!Gym, we take exercising seriously, which is why we offer a variety of group exercise classes in person and virtually to help you function better every day. Let’s join in together to lower our blood glucose levels and get stronger together!


Our goal is to make sure you’re always empowered and informed.

We offer handouts, downloads, research updates, Wellness Series talks, retreats with knowledgeable speakers, in-person and virtual wellness consultations, and in-person physical therapy visits. We are here for our PWR! Members every step of the way.

We’re excited to have you join us!

Resources for you:

Check out our wellness series event with Dr. Becky Farley, PT, PhD and John Goulet, client at the PWR!Gym, as John describes his experiences using a subcutaneous drug delivery pump to receive his dopamine, much like diabetics who use insulin pumps to help regulate their blood glucose levels.

Watch the Wellness Series Video Now


Diabetes Alert Day | NIDDK. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2021, from

Friederich, M., Hansell, P., & Palm, F. (2009). Diabetes, Oxidative Stress, Nitric Oxide and Mitochondria Function. Current Diabetes Reviews, 5(2), 120–144.

Henchcliffe, C., & Beal, F. M. (2008). Mitochondrial biology and oxidative stress in Parkinson disease pathogenesis. In Nature Clinical Practice Neurology (Vol. 4, Issue 11, pp. 600–609). Nature Publishing Group.

Stabilize Blood Sugar to Combat Fatigue in Parkinson’s - Davis Phinney Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2021, from

The importance of exercise when you have diabetes - Harvard Health. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2021, from

The Link between Parkinson’s disease and diabetes | APDA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2021, from

Type 2 Diabetes | NIDDK. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2021, from

Yue, X., Li, H., Yan, H., Zhang, P., Chang, L., & Li, T. (2016). Risk of Parkinson disease in diabetes mellitus: An updated meta-analysis of population-based cohort studies. In Medicine (United States) (Vol. 95, Issue 18, p. e3549). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Catherine D. Printz, DPT Parkinson Disease Exercise Specialist
Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist

About the Author

Catherine (Cat) specializes in neurological physical therapy, has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings at the University of California in San Diego and San Francisco, and served as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF’s School of Medicine. Cat is board-certified as a neurologic certified specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and holds several certifications specifically tailored to the treatment of patients with Parkinson disease; she is a PWR!Moves Certified Therapist and Instructor, as well as certified in LSVT BIG. She joined the PWR!Gym in 2018 as a staff physical therapist and now serves as the Director of Rehabilitative and Exercise Therapies.

Cat offers physical therapy to clients in Arizona and wellness consultations to those outside of Arizona.

In her free time, Cat enjoys running, biking, acting as a diabetes advocate, and spending time with her young son, who loves dinosaurs almost as much as he loves the family’s three Bengals, Thor, Loki, and Squeakers.