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Type 2 diabetes is a condition closely associated with the development of coronary heart disease.

A person diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes must take an active role in managing the disease.

Here are some fast facts about diabetes:

  • Heart disease and strokes are the No. 1 causes of death and disability among people with Type 2 diabetes.
  • At least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke.
  • Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.

The American Heart Association considers diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
 Quite often Type 2 diabetes goes undetected until another problem occurs such as a heart attack or stroke. A person diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes therefore must take an active role in managing the disease, which must involve healthy nutrition and a strong fitness program.

To understand why fitness plays such a powerful role in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, we should also look at other associated risks for cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose levels are well controlled, a person with diabetes often has other risks for developing cardiovascular disease. These other risks could include:

High blood pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure has long been recognized as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Studies report a positive association between hypertension and insulin resistance. When patients have both hypertension and diabetes, which is a common combination, their risk for cardiovascular disease doubles.

Abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides

Patients with diabetes often have unhealthy cholesterol levels including high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high triglycerides.


Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and has been strongly associated with insulin resistance. Weight loss can improve cardiovascular risk, decrease insulin concentration and increase insulin sensitivity. Obesity and insulin resistance also have been associated with other risk factors, including high blood pressure.

Lack of physical activity

Lack of physical activity is another modifiable major risk factor for insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Exercising and losing weight can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes, reduce blood pressure and help reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.

So along with a healthy nutrition plan, regular exercise and activity play a large role in not only preventing diabetes, but in helping to prevent or control the other significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease that often accompany diabetes.

A joint position statement on exercise and Type 2 diabetes from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association says:

“Exercise plays a major role in the prevention and control of insulin resistance, pre diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and diabetes-related health complications. Both aerobic and resistance training improve insulin action, at least acutely, and can assist with the management of BG levels, lipids, BP, CV risk, mortality, and QOL (quality of life), but exercise must be undertaken regularly to have continued benefits and likely include regular training of varying types. Most persons with Type 2 diabetes can perform exercise safely as long as certain precautions are taken. The inclusion of an exercise program or other means of increasing overall PA is critical for optimal health in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.”

Exercise, therefore, is one of the most powerful allies we have in the battle to stay healthy and avoid diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The beautiful part is that most of us can be active and exercise with just a little planning. If you think joining a gym is expensive, take a look at medications and testing supplies for diabetes! Exercise isn’t selective; it extends its benefits to all areas of health to prevent disease and best of all help us to feel well.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, please share with us the role your fitness plays In preventing and/or managing your wellbeing?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

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