Sam Scott: It’s not so difficult to fit in a healthier lifestyle

30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40 per cent. Picture: contributed
30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40 per cent. Picture: contributed
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Over the last ten years, evidence to show that physical inactivity is the single greatest threat to physical and mental health has grown at a phenomenal rate. In the week of World Diabetes Day, it’s also vital to remember that it is a key contributing factor to the rise of many long-term conditions, of which diabetes is one.

Across the world one person dies every six seconds from diabetes; in 2015 alone there were five million deaths linked to diabetes. Globally it is estimated that 12 per cent of health expenditure is spent on diabetes.

Diabetes presents a serious health challenge for Scotland. Currently there are more than 250,000 people living with diabetes in Scotland. This represents five per cent of the population.

The Scottish Public Health Observatory indicate that a further 49,000 people are estimated to have Type 2 diabetes, but don’t know it. Whilst type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented there is a lot of evidence to show that lifestyle changes can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Timothy Church, Director of Preventive Medicine Research, says: “Exercise is the best preventive drug we have, and everybody needs to take that medicine”

Building in regular physical activity to your daily routine can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight and keep blood glucose levels on target. According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, people with type 2 diabetes who are physically active and make healthy lifestyle choices are less likely to need medication to manage their diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes it is very important to balance your insulin doses with the food you eat and the activity that you do, even if you are simply doing housework or gardening. Physical activity can affect your blood sugar levels both during and after exercise so it is important for people living with diabetes to regularly check how activity affects their blood sugar levels to support self-management of the condition whilst enjoying regular physical activity.

Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity a day can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40 per cent. Not only can physical activity reduce the development or support the management of diabetes it can also strengthen your bones, reduce stress levels, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve your sleep.

There are many ways to build in 30 minutes of physical activity into your routine and Edinburgh Leisure is supporting people to do just that through our Fit for Health programme. Fit for Health is a physical activity referral programme, funded by NHS Lothian, through the Edinburgh Health and Social Care partnership, which helps people with diabetes and other long-term conditions (including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and heart failure) manage and improve health and wellbeing via physical activity.

Participants are supported through a 12-week activity programme and are encouraged to continue to take part in physical activity. The programme is delivered across Edinburgh Leisure venues by specialist health instructors.One participant said: “Following a diagnosis, some people feel vulnerable and without help. The class encourages a positive recovery and provides optimism for the future.”

Physical activity supports people to better manage their heath condition, remain independent and less reliant on care support for as long as possible. In addition, individuals tell us that they are achieving a healthier weight, have improved sleep patterns, have increased confidence and optimism and higher energy levels. It is also a great way to socialise with others in similar situations and have fun while being physically active.

Sam Scott is a Fit for Health Development Officer at Edinburgh Leisure. For further details of the Fit for Health programme, call 0131-458 2146, or visit