News & Insights 14 November 2022

It’s World Diabetes Day! The role of physical activity in the prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes

November 14th is World Diabetes Day and here at KiActiv® we see it as a great opportunity to raise awareness around the role of everyday physical activity in the prevention and management of diabetes.

“Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves” (World Health Organisation, 2022).

The most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is characterised by low-levels of insulin in the body or the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin by itself. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the development of insulin resistance, or, in some cases, the body’s ability to produce enough insulin to function normally can be negatively impacted (WHO, 2022; WebMD, 2021). Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with difficulty in controlling blood glucose levels, which has a host of negative implications for health. Of the two, type 2 diabetes is by far the most common, whereby more than 95% of individuals living with diabetes have received a type 2 diagnosis.

The role of physical activity in preventing Type 2 Diabetes

It is well known that unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as excess body weight and physical inactivity, are key risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes (WHO, 2022; NHS, 2020; WebMD, 2021). Researchers have consistently found a strong link between physical activity and its ability to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Even though physical activity has independent benefits in the prevention of this condition, it also helps with healthy weight-management (Goldberg and King, 2007). In addition, it appears that various physical activity intensities (i.e., light, moderate and vigorous) can have a positive impact for the prevention of type 2 diabetes (WHO, 2022; Jason and Cooper, 2008). This means that physical activities don’t necessarily need to be of a vigorous intensity – which is a common misconception – to carry benefits for your health. To read more about the power of physical activity for effectively preventing type 2 diabetes, read one of our earlier blogs here.

The role of physical activity in managing Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in the United Kingdom, with around 3.9 million people currently diagnosed with the condition (Seidu et al., 2021). Unfortunately, this figure is expected to increase to over 5.3 million by 2025, further highlighting the importance of effectively managing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity plays a major role in the management of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and, according to research, has a positive impact on blood glucose control (Seidu et al., 2021).

Since any bodily movement that requires energy expenditure can be considered physical activity (WHO, 2022) you can choose from a variety of activities to engage in. If structured exercise or sport doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other everyday activities which can benefit your health, many of which are likely to be a big part of your daily routine already! For instance, a brisk walk, gardening, hanging out the laundry, or even doing the hoovering all involve moving your body and expending energy. Understanding that each and every move we make matters – not just vigorous intensity exercise – is key to making better choices when it comes to our everyday physical activity. By incorporating more movement into our daily lives, we can increase our overall physical activity level and access many of the health benefits associated with being physically active!

The story of a KiActiv® client

Here is a great example from one of our clients, a 69-year-old male living with hypertension and type 2 diabetes. After the Covid-19 pandemic, he came to realise just how sedentary he had become, but with the help of his personalised KiActiv® technology, he was committed to change that. He accomplished his aim to increase his movement by introducing walking as part of his every day activities. At the end of the 12-week KiActiv programme, he managed to increase his physical movement by approximately 48 minutes per day.

“I miss it if I don’t do it. “

“I make a point now of making sure I’ve not sat too long. “

“I’ve lost about 5 lbs over the time I’ve been doing this!”

As part of the KiActiv® Health programme, he was provided with a wearable monitor device and 24/7 access to their online dashboard providing them with the opportunity to engage with their physical activity data and use the tools and visualisations to reach their health and wellbeing goals. After the initial 12-weeks of the programme, he provided us with this testimonial:

“I try to keep active but have not had any means of measurement and recording until I got the KiActiv® band and access to the website. The data provided revealed how much sedentary time I had. I never realised before. Consequently, I have been trying to develop a more active routine but as that involves outdoor activity it can be difficult to maintain on very rainy days, especially during the current epidemic. Having watched the graphs on the website show improving levels I feel satisfied that I am making progress. I feel fitter and healthier from the additional exercise and have list several pounds of weight, not that being overweight was a problem for me.”

KiActiv® Health is all about helping you understand your everyday physical activity and providing you with the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence to self-manage your physical activity in the context of your own health circumstances. If you would like to join the hundreds of people who chose to gain control over their health and learn how to use physical activity as a self-management tool for your long-term condition, you can click here to express your interest in participating.

The KiActiv® Team