2008-02-01 / Health

Get moving in the fight against type 2 diabetes

MoreAmericans have type 2 diabetes than ever before.And never have so many been at risk for developing this potentially debilitating and sometimes fatal disease. But did you know that most cases of type 2 diabetes- up to 80 percent- are preventable with increased physical activity,along with a healthy diet and lifestyle?

Exercising for prevention is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Exercising for prevention is one of the best ways to stay healthy. That's right.With proper diet and exercise, type 2 diabetes can often be avoided.At a minimum, proper diet and exercise can help control type 2 diabetes and sometimes delay onset.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes results when the body no longer processes sugar properly.Sugar and other carbohydrates in the diet are used by the body's cells for energy.The hormone insulin takes sugar from the blood into the body's cells. Without insulin, the body can't use the sugar.

In people with type 2 diabetes, their bodies don't properly respond to insulin, so their cells don't get enough sugar - or glucose. Instead,glucose builds up in their blood.Over time,high blood glucose seriously damages the eyes,kidneys,nerves and heart.

How can exercise help?

Exercise helps the body use glucose for energy,keeping blood sugar at healthy levels.Exercise also helps people maintain their weight so they don't become obese,which puts them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

But I've never really exercised. How do I get started?

Start off slowly.Begin with a few minutes each day and gradually increase the intensity and duration as you become more fit. It's OK to start at five to 10 minutes a day.Add a little more time each week,aiming for 150 to 200 minutes every week.

How can Imake sure I stay active?

Once exercise becomes habit,you'll kick yourself for not having started sooner. But you'll need to stick with it long enough for it to become habit.The International Health,Racquet & SportsclubAssociation (IHRSA) offers these tips:

• Keep it interesting.Choose several activities you like.Health clubs offer a variety of exercise options in a single location.

• Make sure it's convenient.Pick a time and place that works for you. If you're going to work out at a health club,pick one close to work or home.

• Exercise with a buddy.Friends and family offer motivation and social interaction.

• Set realistic goals.Don't push yourself beyond what's reasonable for your life. • Keep track of your physical activity.You'll see your progress. • Reward yourself.When you reach your activity goals,celebrate.

Remember:Exercising for prevention is one of the best ways to stay healthy. If you already have type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program to determine what physical activity is best for you.

Return to top