Exercise Lessens the Impact of Diabetes

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Diabetes Care

March 21 is American Diabetes Day, a time devoted both to raising awareness of, and fighting against, this disease. In her new book, EXERCISES FOR DIABETES Erin O'Driscoll, RN, MA, helps people with diabetes take control of their bodies and gain strength, courage, and confidence.

Over 18 million Americans have some form of diabetes. In addition to diet and insulin regulation, there is one thing every diabetic can do to take control of their health: Exercise.

Study after study has shown that exercise can lower blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, relieves stress, and strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones. Exercise also helps insulin work better, improves blood circulation, and keeps joints flexible.

There are several different modes of exercises that are important to diabetics - aerobics, strength training, warm-ups, and cool-downs. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and keeps the exerciser's muscles warms. Strength training builds endurance, while improving both joints and muscles. Warm-ups and cool-downs are essential for the safety of the exerciser. EXERCISES FOR DIABETES gives various examples of each with easy to follow pictures and detailed instructions.

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Here are some of the exercises O'Driscoll recommends:

Aerobic Tap Backs: Start with your feet together. Tap your right foot to the back and return in to center, tap your left foot back and return it to center. Alternate tapping the right and left foot to the back as you press both arms to the front.

Lateral Raises for Strength: Start with your arms at your sides and your feet shoulder length apart. Stand tall with your head in line with your spine. Keep your hips neutral. Raise your right arm to the side, up to shoulder height, pause at the top, and slowly lower the arm back down to your side. Repeat with the left arm. Alternate lifting and lowering the right and left arms.

Warm-up or cool-down with a back rotation stretch: Lie on your back and slowly drop both knees to the right side. Let your arms reach out to the opposite side and turn your head in the direction of your arms. Holding the stretch, slowly bring your knees to the center and then gradually drop them to the opposite side. Again, the arms reach out in the opposite direction.

EXERCISES FOR DIABETES is available in bookstores everywhere, or by calling 1-800-528-2550. Erin O'Driscoll, RN, MA, is a registered nurse, exercise physiologist, and certified health and fitness instructor. She lives in East Islip, NY.

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