There are two commands that follow the diagnosis of many chronic illnesses: maintain a healthy diet and exercise. In theory, adhering to those orders is fairly simple. And in reality, doing the first generally is as well. Doctors outline what foods are best, what you should avoid and what you want in limited quantities, depending on your condition. Grocery shopping becomes different but not anxiety-inducing or confusing. Then, you get to the gym, and you’re faced with options. Should you use the treadmill or focus on strength training. Is one thing better than the other? How do you know you’re making the right decision? Fortunately for diabetes patients, doctors have opted to elaborate.
Researchers recently examined the effects of exercise on 250 type-2-diabetes patients between the ages of 39 and 70. They took the relatively inactive individuals and split them into four subsets. The first group did not exercise; the second used a treadmill or stationary bike for 45 minutes, three times a week. The third group used weight machines for the same amount of time, and the last combined the aerobic and resistance training regimens, for an hour and a half workout. After 22 weeks, everyone, except for the first group, had improved triglyceride, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and their ability to manage blood sugar had improved. But, the individuals who combined cardio and weights saw the most improvement. Their A1C values (a measure of how well you are managing blood sugar) dropped by nearly 1 percent. While that may seem slight, this little decrease results in a 15 to 20 percent lower risk of heart attack and stroke and a 37 percent lesser chance of diabetes-related eye or kidney disease. When you have diabetes, that is vital.
Approximately 65 percent of diabetes patients die from heart disease or stroke. Many go blind or experience kidney failure first. So, whatever you can do to lower your risk is more than advisable; it’s necessary. If that means going to the gym for more than a twenty minute jog, that’s what it means. You might lose an hour and a half of your day, but in the end, you’ll probably gain some years. You decide which is better.
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