I’ve just been diagnosed with type II diabetes. Is it safe for me to start an exercise program?

Check with your doctor first, but I hope he or she will explain to you that exercise can help to save your life. Diabetics suffer heart attacks, strokes, blindness, deafness, nerve and kidney damage, amputations and more. All these horrible effects are caused by blood sugar levels rising too high after meals, forcing sugar to attach to the surface membranes of cells. The sugar is then converted to sorbitol which damages the cells. So the key to preventing complications of diabetes is to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high after meals.

Exercise helps to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high. It uses up stored sugar in muscles and liver, so after you eat, your liver and muscles rapidly remove sugar from the bloodstream and prevent sugar levels from rising too high. A regular exercise program can prolong the lives of all diabetics. To get the most benefit from your program, pick two activities, one that stresses your upper body such as rowing or swimming and one that stresses you lower body, such as walking or cycling, and do them on alternate days. Start out easy and build up your strength and endurance gradually to avoid injuries.

November 20, 2005

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