CONSUMER REPORTS: Using exercise as medicine

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - When Sandra Wingate discovered she had dangerously high blood sugar last year, her doctor prescribed dietary changes, medication -- and regular exercise.

Wingate said, "If I keep with exercise and the diet changes, I will be off medication in a few months."

In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly one in 10 participants were able to give up diabetes medication altogether. That, following two years on a program that includes exercise and dietary changes.

Exercise has also been shown to be a very effective tool against other chronic conditions.

Trish Calvo, Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor said, "For chronic lower back pain, new guidelines from the American College of Physicians say you should try non-drug therapies, including exercise before you pop a pill."

For arthritis sufferers: Weight training can build muscle strength, thereby reducing pressure on joints and improving stability.

"But it's important to learn how to use weights correctly from a certified trainer or a physical therapist to avoid worsening joint pain," Calvo said.

Strength training can help people with diabetes too. The more muscle you have, the less likely you are to store extra glucose as fat.

Consumer Reports says it's also important for those with diabetes to have some food before working out. Those on insulin should discuss the best time to exercise with their doctor. Both steps help avoid a potentially dangerous drop in blood sugar.

If your ailment is back pain, Consumer Reports is going to have an in-depth report on all aspects of back pain in its June issue. For instance, is bed rest the right approach? Does medication help? And what are the top non-drug therapies that actually work?