Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Fit@50+: Diabetes Hasn't Sidelined NBA Great Dominique Wilkins

7 fun yet simple ways the former basketball star stays in shape that

spinner image Portrait Dominique Wilkins Personal Best
Dominique Wilkins, 55, is a nine-time NBA All-Star player.
Brent Humphreys

Dominique Wilkins, 55, is a nine-time NBA All-Star player. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was 40, he recently launched the Diabetes Dream Team initiative with Novo Nordisk to help educate those with diabetes. Here's how he's fighting the disease with healthy lifestyle changes.

1. Exercise should be simple. I'll walk on my treadmill for two minutes to warm up, then run for two minutes, then walk again for two minutes. I do this back and forth for 20 to 25 minutes. If you're doing it the correct way, when you get off that treadmill, your whole body is soaking wet. Walk-run intervals are great because they put less stress on your body than just running for long periods of time.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine. Find out how much you could save in a year with a membership. Learn more.

Join Now

2. My two sons play basketball, so after the intervals, I go out and shoot 150 shots with them. That's the fun part of the workout. Just getting out on the court, shooting around, moving around, you're going to burn calories. It keeps my lower body really fluid and mobile. You don't realize just how much activity you get because it's fun. You don't feel it — until later.

3. When I retired from the NBA, I started wearing glasses, because I thought I was just getting old. That was my ignorance about diabetes. After I was diagnosed, I had to change quite a few things. But two weeks after I started my workout, new diet and medication, I rolled over in bed one morning and looked out the window, and I could see clear as a bell.

4. A lot of people are afraid to build a relationship with a doctor. I was the same way. When I first met him, I didn't like him at all. That initial diagnosis was devastating. Now my doctor's been a close friend of mine for 14 years, and I don't get offended when he's hard on me. He doesn't tell you what you want to hear; he tells you what you need to hear.

5. My wife stays on me to exercise. She's a competitive bodybuilder, so she works out every day, and that keeps me motivated. We do two-mile walks every day together. You don't need a gym. You really don't. You just have to walk.

6. People need to hear the horror stories so they manage their diabetes. I had a father and grandfather both die from diabetes. Both went through amputations because they ignored it. I decided that I wouldn't let this disease do to me what it did to them.

7. I only dunk on Fridays. I need a week to warm up.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?