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MayaMohan2 Posted by:
Maya Mohan, Department of Public Health

Maya is the Physical Activity Coordinator for DPH 

Did you watch Oprah the other day?  She did a show called “Diabetes: America’s Silent Killer”.  Dr. Oz and Bob (and a couple of others) talked about how wide-spread (and expensive) diabetes is, how certain ethnicities are more at risk for having diabetes, diabetes’ horrible side effects, and a few key things we can all do today to prevent, treat or reverse it.  One key piece of advice is to exercise regularly.   As a personal trainer, I’ve worked with lots of clients who had type 2 diabetes and they were able to completely stop the disease in its tracks!   So I know exercise works.   

Before I get into how it works, we need a (really) simple explanation of what happens in your body if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Check out this website to learn more about diabetes. 

If you have type 2 diabetes, there is too much sugar (glucose) floating around in your blood and the hormone (insulin) can’t do its job (which is to send the sugar to the rest of the body’s cells).  This is called insulin resistance.  Type 2 diabetes affects the most number of people and can be prevented in most cases. 

If you have prediabetes, the sugar floating around in your blood is higher than normal, but it’s not as high as someone with full blown diabetes.  Regular exercise can help control and even possibly reverse this.  Here’s a previous Mass in Motion post on how prediabetes can be a “Window of Opportunity.” 

When you exercise regularly, a few “magical” things happen.  Your body gets better at controlling its glucose and at using insulin.  This is really important for two reasons:  your body needs glucose for energy and it uses insulin to send those glucose cells to the rest of your body (so your body can use that energy).  When this happens, you may not need to take as much medicine.  Also, along with a healthy diet, regular exercise helps you achieve a healthy weight.  This, in turn, improves how your body uses insulin, which means that you may need to take fewer medications.  And, exercising regularly lowers your risk of heart disease, which is the #1 killer of people with diabetes.  Check out this website to learn about more benefits of being active if you have diabetes.   

So, what can you do?  Move. More. Often. It will reduce your risk of prediabetes, and if you have diabetes, it can reduce the amount of medicine you have to take.  It could even stop the disease from getting worse indefinitely. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, check with your health care provider before beginning a workout program.  

So, did you see this episode of Oprah?  Does diabetes affect you or your family?  We'd love to hear what you think of their suggestions.  Are they do-able?  If not, why not?   

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