published Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Exercise controls diabetes, hypertension


by Kathy Gilbert
Audio clip

John Gaither

Five years ago, John Gaither, a 61-year-old Chattanooga investment adviser, was diagnosed with diabetes, severe hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

“I was on the verge of having a massive heart attack,” Mr. Gaither said.

A quadruple bypass, followed by regular medication, exercise and a modified diet helped Mr. Gaither extend his lifespan.

About one-third of Type I (juvenile onset) and 10 percent to 40 percent of Type II diabetes patients have kidney disease; half of kidney patients have high blood pressure.

Exercise helps ward off and control both conditions, the National Kidney Foundation reports.

Today, he exercises much like any other person his age.

He also tries to meet the recommended adult fitness goal of 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days a week, and strength training exercises at least two days a week.

“It’s worked out wonderfully. I’m in the best health I’ve been in,” Mr. Gaither said.

Daily cardio workouts and regular strength training sessions led to his body building new blood vessels to replace damaged or blocked vessels, he said.

Working out frequently also keeps arteries flexible and his weight under control, he added.

New hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease patients usually need to monitor their workouts to stay in safe zones, said Brenda Ross, manager of rehab and wellness at the Chattanooga Lifestyle Center.

After they learn their limits, regular exercise helps patients keep their blood pressure down and diabetes in check, she added.

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