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Advice for people with diabetes and their families



Hear from people with diabetes who have discovered the importance of keeping active. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something small or new, or just that little bit more of something you already do — all physical activity is good for diabetes.

Brian smiling on the beach with his helmet on

Brian LambertDiagnosed in 2019

Challenging myself

I wasn’t a cyclist before UK Wide Cycle Ride; the only exercise I used to do was either wrestling with someone during my job as a security officer, or jumping in my car! But after I started developing problems with my toes, and my diabetes nurse pushed me to move, I took the first step to becoming more active and bought myself an Oxygen e-bike. 

I had tried my normal bike before that, but I could hardly get to the end of the road on it. So, rather than give up, I got an e-bike and it changed my life. I was going to be the first person to ride one in RideLondon last year, but unfortunately that got cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Then I saw UK Wide Cycle Ride online and thought I had to give it a go. It’s virtual, I could do it in my own time, I didn’t have to travel or book hotels to take part.. I just thought, ‘let’s do it!’. 

My UK Wide Cycle Ride experience

It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it; I felt motivated throughout the entire month and the community was like one big team - it was really special.

I managed to do the full 950 miles, which was a huge goal for me. I had never cycled that far in my life so I have to admit, I did find it hard - but hitting the target felt incredible. 

Nowadays, I can’t wait to get on my bike. I’ve given up driving and tend to cycle everywhere - I built my strength up on the e-bike and now I can take the mountain bike out for 20 to 23 miles at a time. It’s currently being custom sprayed with the Diabetes UK logo because I want to promote the charity and raise awareness; I want to make people stop and stare and ask questions. 

This time round, I’m planning to do 950 miles again - but I want to do it in three weeks. That’s about 50 miles a day, so 25 miles in the morning before work and 25 miles after. 

UK Wide Cycle Ride isn’t a race, it’s a ride - it’s a ride to show people that just because we have diabetes, it doesn’t stop us from living a normal life. Yes, we may have more to think about, or more to consider, but that won’t stop us. 

Support Brian on his cycling journey

Read Brian Lambert's complete story

Brenda RileyDiagnosed with diabetes at the age of 58 in 2005.

Looking after myself

I find that my blood sugar goes lower when I’ve been gardening. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air or the exercise. When my husband Pete was alive he’d say when I’m in the garden I forget what time of day it was because I get carried away. 

I try and make myself do half an hour exercise every morning – a mix of aerobics and stretches and exercise bike. 

Blood sugar control

One thing I’ve found helpful for my blood sugar control is to take my insulin 20 minutes or more before I eat. That gives the insulin time to start working. I got that tip from a talk by diabetes researcher Professor Simon Heller, at our Diabetes UK local group here in Sheffield. 

One of my biggest challenges is trying to get my weight and blood sugar down. If I lose weight I tend to find my HbA1c goes up and vice versa. But the Dapagliflozin is helping with that.

My diabetes philosophy

But it’s important to be kind to yourself. If you’re newly diagnosed, for example, you learn to get better at looking after your diabetes like everything else. If someone gave you a book on nuclear physics, next day you wouldn’t know everything about nuclear physics would you?

Read Brenda Riley's complete story
Zena smiling as she takes on the One Million Step Challenge

Zena GoughWalking in memory of her son, George

Taking one million steps in honour of George

That was two years ago, and then last summer I bumped into one of the mums from rugby and she told me about the One Million Step Challenge.

She said she was doing it and that she thought of George all the time. I decided there and then I was going to do One Million Steps for George. I’m not a super fit person but I needed a reason to get up every day. 

It was a real challenge as I was only doing one or two thousand steps a day at that point. I was carrying weight, and I know I was at risk of diabetes too. So the challenge was good for my head, but also good for my health. 

I found a little route that was 10,000 steps and I did it every day for two weeks. Then as I got more confident, I started going to new places.

I walked by the coast and in the woods, one day I did 20,000 steps! I went on my own to start with but then I invited friends.

I talked a lot while I was walking, mostly about George. I worked through a lot of my feelings on those walks, I cried a lot and some days I would sit on a tree stump and just let out all that anger and sadness.

Raising awareness

I set up my profile on the Steps platform, and I made little videos talking about George and why I was doing the challenge. I wanted to raise awareness as well as money, so that maybe someone will learn from what happened to George. I had a lot of support and I raised £1021. I am very proud of what I achieved there.

One Million Steps is a lot, and I did that for my boy. I’ll do it again, I’ve already signed up, and this time I plan to do 1.7 million steps. Walking makes me feel close to George.

Read Zena Gough's complete story
Jan smiling in her One Million Step Challenge t-shirt and medal

Jan MatherDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010

Walking and talking together with my husband

We started our Million Step challenge the next day. We’re really lucky because where we live is so beautiful. It really lifted our spirits and got us through all the difficulties of lockdown.

We’d pack up a thermos of soup and an apple, maybe sit on a bench and just chat. There were days when I didn’t fancy it, but my husband was great - he’d always encourage me. And as soon as you’re out, you’re glad you’ve gone. Even in foul weather, you just get your waterproofs on and get out in the fresh air. 

We take the camera sometimes - we’ve photographed buzzards and deer. And it’s deepened our relationship, walking with someone makes you feel so much more connected to them. I look at my lovely husband and I think, I am so blessed to have this wonderful man to chatter with. We know his cancer is serious, but we’re making sure every day is a bonus. 

I put it on Facebook and raised £280 - my family were wonderful and all sponsored me. I’m not someone who normally posts about their life online, but it felt good, I felt proud of what we were doing. 

Read Jan Mather's complete story
Steve smiling in his One Million Steps T-shirt

Steve HodgsonDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2016

Taking on One Million Steps

It was around that time that I came across the One Million Step Challenge. I knew that I could walk 10,000 steps in a day, but I liked the idea of being part of something that would keep me on track. I thought that if I put it out there, on social media, then I’ll have to stick to it.

Mostly I just increased how often and how much I walked my dog. Occasionally, because of my shift patterns, I would know that a particular day would be tricky, but then I would just bank extra steps beforehand so my overall total didn’t drop. Through the increased walking and better eating, I’ve lost about a stone, and I feel so much better in myself. 

Joining the community

To start off, I was a bit unsure of putting what I was doing on Facebook, but over time I got more confident, and I got into the fundraising. It’s a lovely community - full of amazing people.

I noticed that people respond better to photos, so I shared what I was up to. Pictures of my dog were particularly popular. I posted a bit on the Yammer groups at work too, which had a good response. 

Completing the challenge

Seeing people pledge their support is an amazing feeling, it feels like they can see what you’re doing and they understand the value of it.

When I hit the one million steps, it felt great. My wife and kids saw what I had achieved - it shows them that I am committed to living a long and healthy life and that I’m here to show-up for them.

Read Steve Hodgson's complete story
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