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May 15, 2014 06:21 PM

Combating Diabetes With Good Health

Mary Cunningham says she doesn't act or feel her age. She's 67 years old and works out at least five days a week.

But she wasn't always this way.

"I've had a weight problem ever since I've been a young kid," Cunningham said.

Cunningham was also at high risk for diabetes. Several of her family members are diabetic, and she knows about the consequences.

"Blindness, amputations and your heart," Cunningham said.

So Cunningham decided to take part in a new class at Sanford Health teaching those at high risk how to change their lifestyle.

"Type 2 diabetes is 100 percent preventable," Sanford Registered Dietitian Jocelyn Johnson said.

Registered Dietitian Jocelyn Johnson helps lead the class. She says physical activity is important step in prevention.

"About 30 minutes, five days a week, but that can be split up into smaller increments too, but try to get that 150 minute a week goal," Johnson said.

Along with exercising, there are other steps you can take to prevent diabetes, like eating healthier.

"When people think diabetes, they think about carbohydrates, but actually people who are at risk for diabetes don't have diabetes, so they don't need to watch their carbs. They just need to make sure they are eating healthy in general," Johnson said.

Johnson says that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats.

"This is really helping me to look at being accountable because we do our tracking, and you can look at your patterns and that," Cunningham said.

Cunningham is also learning about compulsive eating and how to manage stress and negative thoughts.

Through physical activity, she's been able to drop 35 pounds since the beginning of the year. That will not only help her in her fight against diabetes, but she also says she's gained strength and flexibility.

"Just getting down on the floor and getting up I'm not as clumsy as I was," Cunningham said.

With HealthBeat, I'm Casey Wonnenberg.

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