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"Joining a gym and tracking my health progress changed how I saw diabetes"


Mark, 58, a sales professional was diagnosed with Type 2  diabetes 18 years ago. He was in fairly good shape due to regular exercise through cycling, but he ignored his diabetes and in his own admission was in 'denial' of his condition.

His regular exercising tailed off and after the excesses of Christmas three years ago, Mark recognised he had to change his lifestyle. Now he goes to the gym regularly, lost one stone in weight and is training for the Diabetes UK 1 million step challenge.

Mark’s diabetes journey

  • Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes aged 39
  • Prescribed Metformin and Gliclazide
  • Cycled to work regularly and was part of a cycling team from the age of 16, but was put off by unsafe road users.
  • Joined a gym and swam regularly, but found it repetitive and boring so gave up eventually.
  • Now on insulin and uses a Flash Glucose Monitor -  a reader that you swipe over the sensor to get both your blood glucose level and trend of your levels
  • Re-joined gym and bought a Fitbit. Registered for Diabetes UK 1 million step challenge and Velo Birmingham 100-mile event.


Like some people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I felt perfectly healthy and went through a period of denial where I didn't take the condition seriously. I didn’t come across as ill, so no one else took my diabetes seriously either.

Christmas of 2015 I was struggling to recover from the excesses that we all have at this time of year. This is the point when I realised this is my problem and I could not always rely on someone else to do the work for me.

Re-joining the gym by taking up a weekend membership and buying a Fitbit in April 2016 changed how I saw diabetes. The gym was of limited help, but the Fitbit did two key things. It provided me with information and allowed me to engage with a minor form of competition with family members

Both these things helped me keep motivated and reach a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. It helped me become more proactive in my own treatment, losing nearly a stone in weight. I have kept this up and now average 11-12,000 steps per day.

Friends and family

In early 2017 my niece began to use a Freestyle Libre device attached to her arm. My sister in law, a nurse, said it was fantastic and I should consider getting one. 

Within the first quarter of using a Freestyle Libre device, I had excellent reports from my diabetes team and I continued to make small lifestyle changes. My next HbA1c was 75 and the following one 60. Not only fantastic results and data to give me control of my treatment, but the chances of long-term complications and expensive medical treatment greatly reduced. I now have an amount of control that I've never had before.

My daughter told me about Park Runs. I am not a runner  but I went along to ask if they minded me walking around.  The volunteers were very supportive and I did six park runs, making slight improvements each week. 

Diet, nutrition and exercise

I applied for the inaugural Velo Birmingham 100-mile event in September. Training has not been as good as I'd have liked and I have booked every Wednesday as holiday to give me two quality training rides each week for the next month. I am beginning to get worried about this being a step too far, but it is for a great cause.

Diabetes UK and me

I have also registered for the Diabetes UK 1 million step challenge which requires 11,000 steps per day for three months. This is not really for my benefit as I average 11-12,000 per day anyway. The purpose of this is to demonstrate that almost anyone can do something for their favoured charity.  

I am using these events to encourage as many people as I can through social media channels, including the 1 million step challenge Facebook group that Diabetes UK has set up. Keeping my steps up will still give me the benefit of a good base level of activity, which I'm keen to maintain.

Diabetes UK also invited me to see some of the research projects that fundraising supports. This was particularly interesting as I was able to see for myself how my fundraising efforts can improve treatment.




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