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May 29, 2007 > Exercise Matters for People with Diabetes

Exercise Matters for People with Diabetes

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can shake up a person's worldview. Learning that your body is not using insulin properly - a process most of us take for granted - can cause you to wonder what you are and are not physically capable of doing, especially when it comes to a regular exercise program.

On Thursday, June 7, a free monthly diabetes education class at Washington Hospital, called Diabetes Matters will address the importance of exercise in the life of a person with diabetes, and discuss strategies to make physical activity a regular part of your routine for better health. Ivar Blomquist, MS, ETT, an exercise physiologist at Washington Hospital, will be presenting the topic "Building an Activity Program."

"Anybody who has diabetes should be exercising," Blomquist says. "People have different problems, but there is always a way to exercise."

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into the energy needed for daily life. Sugar is the basic fuel for our cells. Insulin allows the sugar to be taken from the blood into the cells. In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells resist the insulin and blood sugar levels rise. According to Blomquist, people with diabetes need to be more aware of their blood sugar levels when they are exercising, but other than that, the benefits of exercise for people with diabetes are equal to the benefits for anyone else. Regular exercise can:

* Lower blood sugar
* Lower blood pressure
* Lower body fat
* Increase aerobic fitness
* Increase muscle strength and muscle mass
* Strengthen bones
* Make you generally feel better

"When you are exercising, your blood sugar comes down for a period of about 72 hours," Blomquist says.

Diabetes, heart disease and stroke all share similar risk factors. Exercising to control diabetes will also benefit you with regards to preventing heart disease and stroke. A person who is at risk for heart disease, stroke or diabetes should talk to a health care professional about an exercise program that takes into account the risk.

Blomquist points out that a regular activity program will help with weight loss, which also lowers blood sugar levels. Obesity and lack of exercise contribute to the risk for type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise for anybody can lower the risk for type 2 diabetes.

"An activity program for a person with diabetes is basically an exercise program, consistent with what every person should be doing for good health," Blomquist says, advising that "to rule out any potential problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program."

Diabetes Matters
The community is invited to attend "Building an Activity Program," 7 to 9 p.m. on June 7 in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont. For more information, call (510) 608-1327 or visit www.whhs.com.

Diabetes Matters is a free, monthly diabetes education class that invites expert speakers to discuss topics of interest for people with diabetes followed by a group discussion. Meetings are open to anyone in the community who is interested in learning more about diabetes through the presentation of science-based information and discussion. Individuals with diabetes and families are especially encouraged to attend. No registration is required. To learn more about upcoming meetings, call (510) 608-1327.

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