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.

Lucy holds 7 medals up. She is smiling and wearing her Diabetes UK Vest.


I can still remember lacing up a pair of old unbranded trainers to go out on my first run. I hadn't run for many years, since school, I was a busy mum of four children and my body wasn’t overly impressed with the new demands I was putting on it. I managed small distances and after a few weeks I noticed that I was able to run further, it became easier and I was really empowered by this.

Best bits

You get out of running what you put into it, and you are accountable only to yourself. It's not all about the running. When I sign up to races, I get to visit new places and I meet new people on my running adventures. I have some fantastic running buddies, and some of these likeminded people have become good friends.

I encourage other people to run all the time because I appreciate what it has done for me. Have faith in yourself and you will be surprised what you can achieve. You can run socially with friends or you can choose to run alone, it can as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be.  Ultimately it will improve your physical and mental health. We are all different, but no matter what the distance, from 5km to an Ultramarathon, if you go running, you are a runner and I am a firm believer that it will better your life.

Hard moments

There have been many hard moments, like finding myself on a trail marathon on a very cold January day, trying to stay upright, let alone run in ankle deep mud for 26.2 miles. That was a tough one. I think the hardest part of running regular marathons is dealing with the tiredness that can build. I am lucky that I have never been injured, but the body aches and pains can really knock your confidence, especially if you have an event coming up.

Training, running the marathon and then recovering, on repeat can be tough. I learned this especially when the marathons fall on consecutive weekends. If you price in the routines and demands of regular life on top of multiple marathons then at times it can be exhausting. I have learned to try to not to give this too much energy, knowing that tiredness will pass and over the last couple of years my recovery time has much improved. When I have felt exhausted, the sponsorship and the belief from others has kept me motivated.

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Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 16


TV garden presenter Lee Burkhill with a snowboard

I learnt to ski in my mid-twenties just as a hobby and then got totally bitten by the winter holiday bug! After a bad accident and a damaged knee I decided to switch to snowboarding which has taken pretty much all the pressure off my knees now vs skiing. What I love about it is the silence. My life is very noisy. Presenting, speaking to clients, and always in discussion with someone. Whereas snowboarding, a bit like gardening, is a really quiet and mindful activity. Your mind is totally focused on turning and being in the moment where every other work distraction or worry gets put on hold. I must admit I'm a total snowboard addict. I get away on my board for at least 3-4 weeks each winter all across the world. I work hard to play hard!

Diabetes challenges

The biggest challenge with winter sports is that you have to really plan your insulin and snack provisions when you're on the mountain. As you can be miles from anywhere I always have at least 3 snacks in the pockets or my jacket. Just in case I go low. Keeping insulin warm enough can be tricky so I use an internal lined pocket for that. The Freestyle Libre made checking blood super easy, as I used to have a back pack for my blood kit which I don't need. Making trips far lighter and less cumbersome.

"I find that when snowboarding my insulin ratio changes. So each day I'm on the mountain I tweak that ratio to keep my bloods perfect rather than going low. But it was trial and error for the first few years."

Tips for travel and diabetes

Be prepared is probably the best one. Whilst you can tell people around you about diabetes you do need to be responsible for yourself. I always travel with a backpack full of snacks, medication and everything I need. I don't rely on airport shops being open or other amenities.

I always travel with a full day’s worth of snacks and fluids, that way you're never caught off guard if your transfer doesn't show up or you're stranded. Also, time differences can cause people to panic with their basal rate. Go easy on yourself. I'd always rather run slightly high for 24 hours than end up having a hypo on a plane or on a coach. If travelling alone always tell the person next to you on a plane you're type 1. Just drop it into the conversation so at least they're prepared if you do have a hypo!

Get more tips on travel and diabetes.

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Steps to raise awareness

Our daughter’s diagnosis has been life-changing for us and we’re trying to do anything we can to raise awareness and money to support research in the hope that one day there may be a cure. At Christmas, we bought Diabetes UK cards from the shop. And we've also bought wristbands.

I’ve done a lot of reading on the Diabetes UK website about different areas. If I have any kind of questions, there’s a pretty good level of answers through the information. 

It’s probably a bit of an excuse but since Sophie was diagnosed seven months ago, I haven’t been to the gym. It’s been so challenging in the evenings and we’re not always getting enough sleep in the night.

Time has flown by and it’s impacted us in many different ways. And we need to work out how we turn things into a normal routine and a healthier lifestyle. 

So I’ve signed up for the Birmingham Wellness Walk in July, and I’ve also signed up for the 100 push-ups a day event in June. I’m not sure I can do more than 10 at the moment! But I’ve got a month to practise.

We want to raise money, but I also need to get out and do a bit more exercise and get in shape. You’ll see six of us doing the walk – my wife Paloma, my mum, dad, brother and sister-in-law.  We’re going to try and bring Sophie along. She’ll be in the pushchair but she’ll probably want to do a bit of the walk, we’ll see how it goes! 

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Yvonne was diagnosed in April 2022

Walk of a lifetime

I have always dreamed of walking between Land's End and John O'Groats when I retired. And I have decided to take a career break from my job as a project manager for four months in 2023 to realise this ambition. Problem solving is part of my DNA, so I’ve had to treat the walk like a little project: break it down into little bits.Take each day at a time, plan for contingency.

I wanted to prove to myself that I could still achieve great things despite having this condition and while I'm still fit and able to do it. Diabetes UK is one of the three charities that I have

Back up

My husband will provide me with the technical support – and fresh supplies of washing, food and some special healthy flapjack that friends are making for me. He’ll be there at the end of the day on the good days and the bad.

Sometimes I’m camping, sometimes I’m staying in bed and breakfasts or hotels. All my accommodation is booked. 

I’ve got to make sure I don’t get blisters and infections. I do a lot of walking and have very comfortable boots, so I could physically walk further each day but I don’t want to put myself under that pressure. I want to enjoy the experience and not feel like I’m having to rush — that’s when you start to injure yourself. 

Remission hopes

I’ve accepted that my diabetes is going to be there for life. It will be sitting there in the background and part of the acceptance is learning to live with it. I’d love remission to happen. My GP said it’s unlikely because I don’t have the weight to lose. I can still hope it might happen. I tend to be somebody that’s realistic about stuff. If I made putting myself into remission my end goal and that doesn’t happen, I would feel that I’ve failed and nobody wants to feel like that.

Although  this has been a tricky journey to navigate and I can still be tripped up by an unexpected high blood sugar reading, I can see myself on the positive side now.

Yvonne's JustGiving page.

Find out the latest research on remission for people with lower body weights (BMIs)

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Looking ahead


I’m now walking towards a happier, healthier future by taking on the Glasgow Wellness Walk.

Since my son Alexander James (AJ for short) was born 14 weeks ago, I always take him out in the pram and let him sleep. During pregnancy I met a group of friends who were also pregnant. And we were always going walking together, especially on maternity leave. 

I live in Glasgow and walking is one of the cheapest activities. And the weather’s picking up now. Walking's not just good for your diabetes but your overall wellbeing. And you can always just put on a pair of headphones. My husband is going on the walk with me and we might bring little AJ in the pram. 

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