Exercise for Your Mind (Continued)

So, what can you do to keep your mind healthy?  If you've read any of my columns before, you know that exercise has to figure in somewhere…so here it comes!  Believe it or not, almost all forms of physical activity improve insulin sensitivity and simultaneously decrease your risk of vascular complications while improving your blood sugar control – even without drastic changes in your body weight or percent body fat.  For example, women with type 2 diabetes have experienced acute improvements in their insulin action whether they engaged in low-intensity or high-intensity walking as long as the two forms of exercise used up the same number of total calories.  Moreover, in other people with type 2 diabetes, insulin sensitivity can improve by 48% after 4 to 6 weeks of moderate-intensity resistance training with minimal changes in body fat or muscle and no change in overall fitness levels.  However, exercise must be regular to have a sustained effect.

In addition, regular physical activity can (not surprisingly – to me, anyway) markedly decrease your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  More than one study has found that participation in leisure physical activities reduces your risk of dementia, and it appears that all levels of exercise participation may prevent or delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's.  If you're already suffering from some mental changes, don't despair; a meta-analysis (that is, a compilation of all relevant studies done to date) of studies done from 1970 to 2003 also found that exercise training increases mental functioning and positive behavior in people who have already developed some level of dementia and other related cognitive impairments.  For people who are already impaired, physical activities like walking and stationary cycling are still possible – and beneficial – in most cases.

The only thing I can't tell you for certain about exercise's benefits yet is whether regular physical activity done by someone with diabetes offsets all or just some of the increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease that comes from having diabetes.  At present I am working to get some grant funding to do research on that exact topic, and once I find out for sure, I'll let you know.  In the meantime, dust off those walking shoes and start using them regularly – for the sake of your mind this time!

For more information on all of the mental benefits of physical activity, please consult my new book, The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan: Living Well and Being Fit with Diabetes, No Matter Your Weight.  Check my Web site (www.shericolberg.com) for more details or to order a copy today.

* Editor's Note:  The use of the term type 3 diabetes in this column is not to be confused with the dLife usage which denotes significant others who do not have diabetes but are an active part of the lives of those who do.

Read Sheri's bio here.

Read more of Sheri Colberg-Och's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

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Last Modified Date: April 23, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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