Diet plays a big part in managing diabetes, but so does exercise.

Seventy-year-old Sonny Contreras has been coming to the gym at the Texas Diabetes Institute for about seven years.

"I lost two siblings and, [for] both of them, diabetes contributed in one way or another to their demise," Contreras said.

That's just one reason why he's taking control of his diabetes.

"The more I can continue on with this, and as long as I can continue to do this, I will probably have my independence," Contreras said.

"We work with them to make them a little more independent, to start doing your checks without prompting, setting themselves up on equipment," said Irene Lopez, a registered nurse and certified exercise physiologist with University Health System.

Lopez is also the manager of the gym at the Texas Diabetes Institute.

"Using our muscles, it helps to maintain and regulate glucose levels, especially a person with diabetes who already has some form of impaired glucose metabolism," Lopez added. "Exercise can help them maintain their blood sugar levels."

She also said that the sooner you take charge of your diabetes, the better.

"The sooner you can start putting care together, making lifestyle changes, being able to prevent onset of other conditions," she said.

Contreras said that men with diabetes need to step up and take control of their health because they often don't.

"Women tend to want to go ahead and fix the problem, whereas men sometimes tend to push it aside and go, 'I don't need any help,'" Contreras explained.

So get that help, wear that gown, and live a longer life.

For more men's health information call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Real Men Wear Gowns stories at