Fitness

Exercise to Beat Pre-diabetes

Aerobic exercise like cycling—plus losing weight and cutting carbs—can help if you're at risk for pre-diabetes.

Exercise to Beat Pre-diabetes
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IF YOU ARE OVER 45, weigh more than you should, exercise less than three times a week, and have a family history of diabetes, you could be at risk for pre–diabetes, a condition that afflicts an estimated 54 million Americans. Luckily you can avoid it if you lose weight and get moving.

WHAT IS PRE–DIABETES? When you have pre–diabetes, your levels of blood glucose (the sugar used by the body as energy) are consistently higher than normal. This can lead to type 2 diabetes, when the body either becomes unreceptive to insulin, which converts glucose to energy, or stops producing it altogether. Few, if any, symptoms manifest, says Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. "You may feel tired, but that's about it,– she says.

HOW TO GET TESTED Assess your risk at diabetes.org. If it's high, ask your doctor for a blood glucose test.

LOSE WEIGHT One large National Institutes of Health study found that losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight through diet and exercise lowered the likelihood of getting diabetes by 58 percent; those who used medication saw their risk reduced by 31 percent. Try these tactics:
Use smaller plates and serving utensils.
Eat fewer carbohydrates. Since most carbs are quickly converted to glucose in the body, you should reduce your intake to between 45 and 60 grams per meal. At 45 grams, a breakfast might look like a cup of oatmeal, half a cup of skim milk, and a tablespoon of raisins.
Choose more high fiber carbohydrates. Researchers have shown that fiber–rich foods (whole wheat pasta and bread, high fiber cereals, beans, lentils, fruits with skins and seeds, and potatoes with skin) can help manage blood glucose.

EXERCISE MORE Increase your activity level to 30 minutes every other day with a mix of aerobic exercise (swimming, cycling, rowing, walking) and strength training (lifting weights). "More research suggests that strength training plays a big role in fighting insulin resistance," says Arathuzik.