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The many health benefits of regular exercise

Last Modified: November 13, 2020

Sports & Exercise


Having a regular exercise program is about more than just feeling good or looking better in the mirror. It can fight common diseases and improve medical outcomes after a procedure. Kim Cowan, performance specialist and adult fitness instructor, Parkview Sports Medicine, talks about the impact your fitness can have on preventing diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes.

Exercise for osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses bone density or makes too little bone. As a result, bones become weak and may break easily from a fall or even minor bumps. Osteoporosis means “porous bone” and, when viewed under a microscope, looks like a honeycomb.

  • Indicators: Some osteoporosis symptoms include back pain caused by fractured or collapsed vertebrae, loss of height, a stooped posture and bones that break easily.
  • Diagnosis: Your physician will likely order a bone density scan, such as a DEXA scan that measures your bones’ mineral density.
  • Movement: Exercise is essential for both treating and preventing osteoporosis. Lifting appropriate weights, using resistance bands, and performing bodyweight exercises is great for strengthening muscles and bones. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you’ll want to avoid high-impact activities like running and jumping. Instead, focus on weight training as a lower-impact option for strengthening those muscles and bones.
  • Prevention: Exercise like aerobics, running and tennis can be very beneficial. It’s recommended to exercise 2-3 times per week at 70-80% of your maximum capacity. Studies also indicate it’s important to lift heavy enough weights in addition to your aerobic activity to help stimulate bone growth.
Exercise for diabetes

According to the CDC, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes, with 90-95% being type 2 diabetics. If you have type 2 diabetes, your cells are resistant to insulin. The pancreas, which creates insulin, can’t produce enough to get your cells to respond, resulting in high blood sugar. Prolonged high blood sugar can lead to many serious health problems like heart disease and kidney disease.

  • Risk Factors: There are many risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, including being overweight, over 45 years old, having a lack of physical activity or having a close family member with the disease. The good news? Regular exercise and healthy eating are proven to reduce those risk factors and keep you healthier, longer.
  • Prevention: A general recommendation for preventing type 2 diabetes is engaging in an exercise program consisting of weightlifting and cardiovascular training for 30 minutes, three times a week. Combining weight training and cardio helps to reduce body fat and create lean muscle mass – both of which will reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There is a myriad of ways to accomplish your goals. The key is finding a routine you enjoy as well as one you can sustain over time. 

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