Exercise: “The Cure” Part 3- Exercise and Diabetes

by Dr Makini McGuire-Brown

Sensible Talk!

Have you been keeping up with our Exercise: “The Cure” series?! If this is the first article of this series that you’re reading, this series is all about the numerous benefits of exercise particularly for preventing and treating lifestyle diseases. We reviewed the overall benefits in the first article and we focused specifically on high blood pressure and exercise in the second article. For those of you who have been keeping up with the series, have you started your pandemic workout program as yet?! I hope so!

Today we focus on the benefits of exercise in the prevention and treatment of diabetes (I’ll mostly be addressing Type 2 diabetes). To reiterate, lifestyle diseases are so named because improving our lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise can prevent and treat the diseases even without medication. The end point of these diseases is heart attack, stroke, significant decrease in quality of life or death. Let’s use exercise as the amazing tool that it is!

Diabetes is a disorder in which your body does not process the glucose/sugar from the food that you eat well. When we eat, the glucose from our food needs to be processed by our bodies and then absorbed into our cells to give them the energy they need to function! Insulin is the hormone that plays the most major part in our cells being able to absorb the glucose that they need to function. In diabetes, insulin is lacking or our cells are not responding to the insulin also known as insulin resistance. The excess glucose in our blood then leads to deleterious effects in almost every organ.

So how can exercise help the potential kidney failure, blindness and heart disease that uncontrolled diabetes can cause? Apart from the fact that many who have diabetes also have hypertension/high blood pressure and we’ve talked about the benefits here, but studies from Harvard Health have shown that:

  1. Exercise lowers blood sugar in patients with diabetes irrespective of weight loss! Do not be discouraged if the scale doesn’t budge, continue exercising because it is lowering your blood sugar level which is the source of all complications of diabetes!
  2. This lowering of the blood sugar is not only in the moment but a long standing effect. With continued regular exercise patients see a lowering of their HbA1C which every person with diabetes knows is a great thing!
  3. All different types of exercise for example aerobic or weight training helped lower the HbA1C! So no more excuses about not being able to run or not liking weights! Just do at least one of them but preferably both!
  4. The more exercise you do, at a minimum at least 2 hours per week, the lesser your risk of dying from heart disease compared to if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
  5. Women with diabetes specifically, can decrease their risk of heart disease by 40% through regular exercise.

The benefits are proven and really easy to come by with just a little bit of commitment. Imagine that you can prevent diabetes or keep it very controlled and prevent the scary complications just by committing to regular exercise of any type!

Keep following along in the series to learn about more benefits of exercise. Next we do Exercise and High Cholesterol. Soon we will address what counts as enough exercise! Subscribe below so that you don’t miss it!

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Published by Dr. Makini McGuire-Brown

God-Lover, Mother, Wife, Physician, MBA, Language-Lover, Arts-Lover, Happy Caribbean Girl!

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