Diabetes Forecast

Just Do It. OK—but How?

By Sara Sklaroff, Editorial Director ,

There is a terrific but underused treatment for diabetes: exercise. Whether or not you are taking medication to manage your diabetes, and whether or not you need to lose weight, I encourage you to read Associate Editor Tracey Neithercott's story, Exercise: Good Question (And Answers), to learn more about the virtues of physical activity.

Of course, you may be sick of hearing about exercise. You probably already know that it is good for you; perhaps your doctor has told you so. But if you're someone who has never been particularly active, it's fairly daunting to get started. And even if you're exceptionally motivated, there's plenty to stand in your way.

If exercise were a pill, your doctor could prescribe it and your insurance could cover it and your pharmacy could dispense it. (And you could just swallow it—imagine that!) But while many of us have prescription coverage, few of us are lucky enough to get sent to an exercise physiologist, to say nothing of a personal trainer. Why not? The scientific evidence is there. But somehow this aspect of care doesn't get the respect it should. In a country that takes professional sports so seriously, that has a massive industry built on gyms, sneakers, and workout gear—that can market something called "fitness water"—we still don't value exercise enough to recognize it (and pay for it) as a medical necessity.

We don't even encourage activity in daily life. Think of the suburbs that lack sidewalks, the cities without good bike paths. Or take the centrality of elevators. Stairs are a great way to add intervals of exercise to your day. But even in buildings of just a few stories, staircases are an afterthought; mainly a fire-safety measure, they are blighted with ugly lighting and depressing paint jobs. Elevators, meanwhile, stand front and center. The message is clear.

Yes, it's the individual's responsibility to get healthy. But a little help would be nice.



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