How getting active changed my life - and it's more important than ever
Posted: Wed, 15 Jul 2020 12:28
Dick Tracey was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in April 2019, aged 63. This came as a huge shock to him and he knew he needed to make some significant changes. As well as changing his diet, Dick was keen to start getting active. But the barriers were there – he had never joined a gym in his life and was unsure where to start.
Dick then found out about the GO Active Get Healthy Diabetes programme, which is a partnership approach between Active Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Local Authorities, funded by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to help people living with diabetes increase their physical activity levels to help manage their condition. Dick received tailored advice from the GO Active Physical Activity Specialists, who motivated and encouraged Dick to take part in regular exercises through the programme and supported him to start cycling regularly.
In just eight months after his diagnosis, Dick lost 20% of his body mass, went into remission and is now able to control his diabetes with physical activity and diet alone.
"I'm absolutely convinced none of this would have happened if I hadn't met Active Oxfordshire."
Dick now shares his story about the difference getting active continues to make to his life, and the challenges faced by the COVID-19 crisis:
"When COVID-19 came along, I was more than a little concerned. I went into a little bit of panic. I knew that being diabetic carried additional risks, and I felt myself going into panic overdrive and became a recluse. That meant I was inactive and, with nothing to do, I started comfort eating and snacking. I then put on seven pounds and could feel myself going into denial and coming up with barriers as to why I couldn't go out and exercise.
When it hit me that I'd put on half a stone, I knew I had to make changes. I was still fearful of going out - so what could I do at home? First, I walked repeatedly up and down the stairs to see how much I could do before I became breathless. Every third day I decided to increase it. We have a large back garden, so I started to jog up and down the garden (much to the amusement of my neighbours) and counted how many times I could complete before I became breathless – and gradually increased. These became daily activities. When I got my confidence back, I went back out on my bike. Just by doing those local exercises, the snacking stopped and I'm back in the right mindset.
For me, it's all around confidence. It's amazing how much your confidence improves by getting active. You don't just get confidence in whichever exercise you're doing, you get confidence in yourself. You really feel proud of what you've done. Shedding my weight so quickly, gave me that confidence.
The hardest step is the first step. If you haven't exercised for a long time, then just walking around the block is going to be good for you. If I go round the block once a day for the first week then it's twice the next week. Start easy. Don't beat yourself up, because you won't enjoy it. Find something that you enjoy doing and even if you think it isn't doing you any good – it is."