The Best Medicine: Exercise Helps Woman Lead a Healthier Life

Janet Jordan says weight-loss surgery was the hardest thing she ever did. But the 66-year-old retiree credits the surgery and a customized exercise program for pointing her life in a better and brighter direction.

Janet underwent gastric bypass surgery at Lexington Medical Center in February to help gain control of diabetes and other health issues. She has since lost nearly 75 pounds. A referral to the hospital’s Exercise Is Wellness program helped her transition into an exercise regime that’s paid equally big dividends. She now has more energy and feels much better. And best of all, she no longer takes medicine for high blood pressure or anxiety and only takes one pill a day for diabetes.

“I’ve been on blood pressure medication for nearly 20 years and on diabetes medication for about 14 years,” said Janet. “My prescriptions used to cost $300 to $400 a month, and now I pay less than $20 a month. The weight loss from exercising was a positive, but I was thrilled with the health benefits.”

The eight-week Exercise Is Medicine program pairs participants who qualify with a personal trainer and a free two-month membership to Health Directions, the hospital’s wellness gym. There, participants receive eight personal training sessions and a review of their medical history, including a custom training plan and an orientation to exercise equipment and classes.

“My trainer Stephen was very knowledgeable,” said Janet. “He focused on my needs and what I could accomplish safely. It was a very good program for me. I
loved the atmosphere and the knowledge of the staff.”

Janet plans to continue exercising at a local gym in her neighborhood.

Frank J. Ferraro, MD, with Lexington Endocrinology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, says exercise is especially important for someone like Janet who has diabetes.

“Exercise helps lower blood glucose by increasing circulation to the muscles,” he said. “Since this is where most of our insulin receptors are located, exercise helps lower blood glucose levels both during exercise and afterward.  Also, regular exercise is an important part of maintaining an ideal body weight or losing weight. Being overweight increases insulin resistance, making it more difficult to control blood glucose.”

Dr. Frank Ferraro

In addition, Dr. Ferraro says people with diabetes have a greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease and can reduce their risk with regular exercise.

Before starting an exercise program, Dr. Ferraro says people with diabetes should first get approval from their physicians. This is especially important for individuals over 35, those who are overweight or anyone with another risk factor for heart disease such as smoking or high blood pressure.

The Exercise Is Medicine program is funded by a grant from the Lexington Medical Center Foundation. A physician referral is required. For more information about the program, contact Thad Werts at Health Directions at (803) 936-7125.

Who’s Eligible for the Program?
The eight-week Exercise Is Medicine program requires a physician referral and targets individuals with two or more risk factors:
• Family history of any chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes or COPD
• Tobacco use
• High blood pressure
• Dyslipidemia (elevated lipids)
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Sedentary lifestyle

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