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38 Minutes to Better Health With Diabetes

Walking that much (or more) improves health of diabetes patients, says study
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Medical News

May 25, 2005 -- People with type 2 diabetes may be able to upgrade their health in about half the time it takes to watch one episode of Desperate Housewives.

Increasing physical activity by 38 minutes a day helped people with type 2 diabetes improve their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, even without losing weight. Those who walked a little longer (about an hour a day) made even more progress and shed some extra pounds, too.

Those results come from an Italian study in June's issue of Diabetes Care. The findings prompted a journal editorial urging doctors to help their diabetes patients start walking. Here's a look at what it takes.

Step 1: Get Cleared for Take-off

Research has shown that people with diabetes benefit more when they eat healthfully and add exercise to their routine. That finding -- based on women with type 2 diabetes -- was reported in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in March.

Easier said than done? Making big lifestyle changes on top of a demanding health condition can seem hard, confusing, or tough to get right.

So delete the guesswork. It's best to check in with a doctor first. That way, you can get approval to exercise, find out about safe and effective methods, and gain encouragement from a medical expert.

Step 2: Choose an Activity

The people in the study weren't superathletes. They were about 62 years old, on average, and they were all in roughly the same condition at the study's start.

They also didn't exercise in a fancy gym or plunk down a lot of money for trainers. Instead, they were free to do as much exercise of any kind as they wished. Most chose brisk walking, say the researchers, who included Chara di Loretto, MD, of the internal medicine department at Italy's University of Perugia.

People who can't walk may want to consider other types of exercise that don't strain the body as much, like swimming or riding a stationary bike, says the study. Those who want to do more intense exercise (like jogging) may need a shorter amount of time, say the researchers.

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