Physical Activity as a "Prescription" for Type II Diabetes with Cardiovascular Disease

Most individuals with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are not physically active. However, researchers have recently found that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of death for people with these co-morbidities. Clinicians explained that having type 2 diabetes can double the risk of premature death. They have found, however, that individuals who are more fit can see a reduced risk for the chances of premature death. In fact, the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EPAC) actually recommends exercise or physical activity as a “prescription” for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This recommendation comes with the goal of reducing premature death.

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Using exercise as a prescription for treating type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be an effective way of increasing your life expectancy. Clinicians outline that exercise training should be included in the treatment plan for those with both diagnoses. The benefits of adding physical activity and exercise to your lifestyle include improved glucose control, blood pressure, lipid status, and body composition. Additionally, they emphasize that because these individuals are at an increased risk for premature death, they need more than just medication. A personalized exercise plan can help improve overall health.

Before beginning exercise, it is important to assess for co-morbidities, exercise risks, and personal preferences. It is recommended that individuals start at a low intensity, such as walking. Clinicians explain that the goal of increasing physical fitness is to improve glucose regulation for those with type 2 diabetes. The emphasis is not just on weight loss but also improved outcomes for the disease. An important piece of adding exercise to your treatment plan is to monitor your motivation for long-term adherence. Adding physical activity can not only help with the treatment of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but can also improve your overall health and reduce the risk of premature death. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to exercise and goal-setting. Further, we can assist with providing support for maintaining adherence and decreasing the risk of mortality.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Kemps, H., et al. (2019). Exercise training for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What to pursue and how to do it. A position paper of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC). European Journal of Preventive Cardiology;New Paper: How to Get Patients with Diabetes/CVD Moving. Marlene Busko,Medscape, January 22, 2019; MetkusJr., T., Baughman, K., & Thompson, P. (2010). Exercise prescription and primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 121(23), 2601-2604