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To Achieve Top Form, Control Your Blood Sugar

To Achieve Top Form, Control Your Blood Sugar

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By now you have probably seen a lot of information on how to control blood glucose and the lab value that clinicians look at to monitor its longer-term control, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). Aerobic-style exercise is often recommended to help to improve sensitivity to our own insulin, but resistance -- that is, strength-training -- exercise may not be emphasized as much. Researchers have looked at what could happen in middle-age couch potatoes with type 2 diabetes if they were to undertake either a resistance or an aerobic exercise program for 10 weeks. What they found was that those who practiced strength-training or treadmill exercise three times a week benefited both by lowering blood-sugar and HbA1c levels. But the strength-training group benefited even more than the treadmill group. The effect is pretty quick, with those in both groups showing results in improved blood-glucose levels even in the first week and somewhat progressively improving through the 10-week duration. When the researchers looked at the HbA1c levels, it was only the resistance-exercise group that achieved levels in the target range. What does this mean? Strength training should be considered a strong feature of exercise planning for many reasons. Not only does it help to maintain that all-important lean-muscle tissue that helps to keep your body functioning and strong, it also helps to keep blood sugars under control, which is extremely important to prevent those annoying complications -- like cardiovascular disease -- from taking hold. So even if you are a couch potato now and aren't really fond of the idea of a treadmill for exercise, it is worth getting to work on those muscles! Fields-Gardner is the director of services for the HIV nutrition company Cutting Edge and is a member of the International AIDS Society and the American Dietetic Association's Dietetic Practice Group on HIV and AIDS. She is the author of Living Well With HIV and AIDS: A Guide to Nutrition and a coauthor of HIV Medications: Food Interactions and A Clinician's Guide to Nutrition in HIV and AIDS.

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