The Sweet News about Exercise and Diabetes

[This is the second in a series of articles here at FitNotesNH on the role exercise plays in preventing and/or helping to improve certain medical conditions.  We’ll be exploring diabetes, arthritis, cancer and more in this space very soon. Look for the FitWise logo! Our hope is that you will learn along with your fellow Wellness Center members.]

Another benefit of regular exercise that you might not expect: diabetes prevention and management.

Scientists tell us that the key to preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes is weight loss and exercise. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people who took part in an intensive program of diet, physical activity, and behavior modification reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Those folks had even better results than participants who took an oral diabetes drug but did not engage in lifestyle changes.

How does it work? Regular exercise helps lower your blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and strengthens your heart. It’s especially helpful when combined with strength training, which helps build muscle while reducing fat.

Susan Grosso, RN and clinical diabetes specialist with Monadnock Community Hospital, says her department recommends that individuals at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes undertake a program of moderate weight loss (about 7 percent of body weight) and regular physical activity (150 minutes a week).  She also a reduced-calorie diet and reducing the amount of dietary fat can also serve to reduce one’s risk of developing diabetes. She recommends a diet that includes plenty of whole grains and fiber and limits any sugar-sweetened beverages.

If you already have diabetes, be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. There are a few precautions you want to take, especially as you start to get your diabetes under control. Your doctor can give you specifics for your condition.


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