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My research seeks to develop and test effective programs to lower the risk of heart attack or stroke for people with type 2 diabetes by increasing physical activity -- we know that exercise is powerful medicine for preventing cardiovascular disease. In particular, I have focused on overcoming barriers to regular physical activity for people with diabetes. My CWHR-funded research has identified a novel barrier to physical activity for people with diabetes: exercise feels harder for women with diabetes than for women without diabetes, and we have also found that lactate levels as a marker of effort during exercise are higher for women with diabetes than their healthy female peers. Building on my initial seed grant findings, I have obtained further funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop and test programs that primary care clinics could sustain for their patients, in order to overcome these barriers to physical activity.
We know that regular physical activity lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, and it also has many other health and quality of life benefits -- it can lower blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, improve arthritis pain, and much more. For people with diabetes, a particularly important point is that regular physical activity keeps people living independently in their homes -- older patients really value that. This reference provides additional details. https://health.gov/paguidelines/about/qanda/
My dreams are that my work leads to physical activity coaching programs for people with type 2 diabetes that are implemented broadly into primary care practices, and that these programs help patients to become more physically active, improve their functional health and quality of life, and remain active in their communities.