“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it’s time to get serious about lifestyle change. Prevention is better than treatment for individual health as well as the health of the NHS.”
Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Long Term Conditions
Over 3.3 million people in the UK are living with diabetes, according to the latest figures realised by Diabetes UK – that’s a 60% increase in just 10-years.
These numbers are particularly shocking given that up to 80% of cases of type-2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented. And physical activity has the greatest impact, preventing up to 50% of cases.
Not only is physical activity key to prevention – it should be prescribed at initial diagnosis, before medications, and continued throughout the management of the conditions – it is the recommended treatment for type 2 diabetes, treating the condition and preventing avoidable complications such as amputations, heart attacks and strokes.
It’s a case of moving more and sitting less when it comes to activity to significantly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Reducing sedentary time (the time you spend sitting down or standing still) is proving to be really important for preventing diabetes. Try to reduce every day to less than 60% of the time you’re awake. So, if you sleep for 8-hours, then be sedentary for less than about 9.5hours a day. So, if you have a desk job, you could try walking around when you’re on the phone, go to a kitchen that’s on a different floor to make your coffee or tea, get smaller glasses of water so you have to go more often – aim to get up from your desk for 5-minutes every hour, it can make a big difference!
Being active means moving more and it’s vital to understand what the right activity is for us – the one we enjoy, the one that “counts” i.e. makes us burn 3 times more calories than we do when we’re resting (3METs or what the government guidelines call moderate-intensity activity). Crucially, activity doesn’t have to mean exercise! if you enjoy going to for a run or taking a Zumba class, then great! But, there are plenty of ways you can be more active every day – take the stairs, walk around the shops, play an extra 9 holes of golf, whatever “counts” for you – one size doesn’t fit all!