Valley Woman Fights Diabetes with Zumba

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PENITAS – A Rio Grande Valley woman says she finds enjoyment through Zumba in her daily battle with diabetes.

Three years ago, Penitas resident Christina Tovar was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. She says she remembers what led her to the doctor's office to check on whether she had diabetes.

"My feet hurt, headaches, infections," she recalls.

Tovar says she now has to take time out of her busy day raising three children to take two pills to control her diabetes.

"One for sugar in the morning, and one for the blood pressure also," she adds.

In addition, people who live with diabetes on a day-to-day basis must focus on eating the right foods.

"I don't eat bread and soda, just a little bit," she says.

Tovar says the main reason she is feeling healthy now is due to daily exercise. On the weekends, she walks on the park and during the week, she takes part in Zumba exercises.

"Because it's for my own benefit. It's good for my health, cholesterol, my high blood pressure, diabetes and that's why it's good to do exercise," she explains.

Shirley Arnolde, clinic administrator at Proyecto Desarrollo Humano, says the center hosts Zumba classes on Tuesdays for Tovar and other diabetics as a way to treat the disease.

She adds it can help other problems diabetics may deal with.

"Not only does it help with your diabetes. I mean, diabetes – you have to watch your nutrition, you have to watch your weight,” she says. “And, of course, physical activity does help with your diabetes. So, with the Zumba that we have going on, it also helps with the mental health. So, it is an awesome program that we have.”

Arnolde says high blood pressure often comes as a symptom of Type 2 diabetes. She says exercise helps greatly in efforts to lower blood pressure.

She notes with diabetes so prevalent in the Valley, it is often very difficult for area residents to get the proper care they need.

Arnolde says the Penitas clinic first helps residents get tested for diabetes and are then referred to the right doctor for treatment.

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CHANNEL 5 NEWS is dedicating two weeks of coverage to diabetes. Learn more on the Heart of the Valley page.