Mason County News
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Natural Health from A to Z
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 • Posted December 8, 2010

Exercise is a powerful natural therapy for diabetes. Everyone should exercise regularly regardless of age or current health, but this article targets issues of diabetes and metabolic syndrome that so many of us have.

Exercise actually clears the blood of glucose, acting like an insulin shot. Exercising after eating is particularly helpful at maintaining good control over blood sugar. One well known program for diabetics includes exercising for 8 to 12 minutes after each meal.

Regular exercise increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin which is very beneficial to type 2 diabetics. These benefits include facilitating weight loss, removing free fatty acids from the blood, increasing lean muscle mass, and increasing the production of the cellular glucose transporters. Even if you aren’t diabetic, you can realize some of these benefits from exercising and feel better, look better and be healthier too.

What is significant about the way regular exercise helps diabetics and those with insulin resistance is that the benefits are long lasting. One particular study showed remarkable improvements in the glucose handling of those who exercised regularly for one year. Moreover, their blood pressure and triglyceride levels were lower than that of the control group which did not exercise. The best part was that when tested two years later, the exercise group showed sustained changes in glucose handling, blood pressure and triglycerides.

Exercise helps not only glucose metabolism, but the cardiovascular system as well. Diabetics are prone to problems with cardiovascular health. In fact heart disease is the number one killer of those with diabetes. Most of the complications of diabetes are related to blood circulation problems.

Exercise conditions the heart, improves cholesterol, thins the blood, enlarges the coronary arteries, increases circulation, reduces blood pressure, improves mood, strengthens bones and improves mental function. Wow. Almost everybody needs that.

Aerobic exercise is the most beneficial for cardiovascular function. This means any activity that makes the heart beat faster such as walking, jogging, swimming, tennis or cycling.

Elevating the heart rate is a primary objective of this type of exercise; however, the highest heart rate that is safe for you is age-dependent. Subtract your age from 220. If you are 50, your maximum heart rate is 170 beats per minute. If you are 30, your maximum heart rate is 190 beats per minute. Never allow your heart rate to go over this number.

Training heart rate is a calculation based on your maximum heart rate. When you are walking, running or cycling, aim for a pulse rate of 75 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate as calculated by subtracting your age from 220.

Aerobic exercise should be done at least 4 times per week for about 45 minutes. Start slowly and work up.

Caution is advised for those taking medications for diabetes. Exercise lowers blood sugar and can drive blood sugar too low. Also, diabetics with fragile blood vessels should be careful not to exercise too vigorously since exertion could cause further damage.

Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.

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