Some doctors prescribing exercise to help treat diabetes, other conditions

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Some healthcare providers now prescribe exercise. For many people, it can be more helpful than popping a pill. (WPVI)

Some healthcare providers now prescribe exercise.

For many people, it can be more helpful than popping a pill.

When Sandra Wingate discovered she had dangerously high blood sugar last year due to type 2 diabetes, her doctor prescribed medication along with dietary changes and regular exercise, saying, "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 people were able to give up diabetes medication altogether, after two years on a program that included exercise and healthy changes in eating.

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

"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," said Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor Trish Calvo.

For arthritis sufferers, weight training can build muscle strength, which helps to reduce pressure on joints and improves 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," said Calvo.

Lifting weight can help people with diabetes as well.

The more muscle you have, the less likely you are to store extra glucose as fat.

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