Letter ‘E’ should be for exercise, to reduce health risks

One in 17 Americans – a total of 16 million people – has diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About four out of every ten Americans have high blood pressure.

One of the best treatments for high blood pressure and diabetes, especially non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, is something that is available to all of us. You guessed it – EXERCISE.

Exercise is endorsed as a treatment and preventative by the Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure; the American Heart Association; the American College of Sports Medicine; and a number of other health organizations.

Exercise also helps control some of the risk factors associated with coronary heart disease. Although I have mentioned these factors previously, they are worth repeating. Remembering them is as easy as A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

A – Age: Aging increases your chances of developing coronary heart disease; however, how well you take care of yourself throughout the years is more important than your actual numeric age.

B – Blood Pressure: Your blood pressure can definitely be controlled through exercise, a healthy diet and stress management.

C – Cigarette smoking: Yet another lifestyle choice, cigarette smoking is a high-level risk factor. It is best never to start, but if you do smoke, you must be aware of the dangers involved. When you are willing to take those steps towards quitting, be strong and have faith.

D – Diabetes: Diabetes is controllable. Exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity, facilitate weight control and improve cardiovascular health.

E – Elevated Cholesterol Levels: Combined with meal plan changes, exercise can indeed improve your cholesterol ratio by increasing your “good” cholesterol and lowering your “bad” cholesterol levels. To significantly improve your HDL (good) cholesterol, you’ll need to expend approximately 700 to 1,500 kilocalories per week. Start slowly, increasing your caloric expenditure gradually. You can break exercise down to three 15-minute sessions per day, four to six days per week.

F – Family History: Unfortunately, this is one factor that you cannot control; however, if you know you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes or obesity, you have an added incentive to take care of your health.

G – Gross Inactivity: Inactivity can result in obesity, which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic illnesses.

The bottom line is to MOVE, MOVE, MOVE. Once you establish an exercise routine, you’ll feel better and have more energy.

Why wait until you develop a risk factor before incorporating exercise into your life? Because you deserve to be healthy and well, be proactive and take control of your health.

Exercise of the week: Today’s exercise is the standing calf raise, which works the calves, of course. Stand with feet flat on the floor with your hands on the back of a chair or against a wall for support. Slowly raise both heels off the floor, pause and slowly lower heels to starting position. Repeat desired number of repetitions (10-15 repetitions).