Five years on, Bob Swindell is a changed man.
The 48-year-old was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2013 and is now a prime example of how physical activity can help manage long-term health conditions.
That’s why we’ve allocated £1.3 million to members of the Richmond Group of Charities for a series of pilot projects that could improve the health of millions of people.
Diabetes UK is one of the eight charities that will benefit from the funding, with Bob a shining light of how exercise can improve the lives of those with the disease.
15 million people in England have at least one common long-term health condition
Since diagnosis, he has lost weight and now uses exercise and diet to control his diabetes to such an extent that he no longer has to use medication.
Running has been the key for Bob, and he champions parkrun as one way people with diabetes can build activity into their lives.
“I’d be the first to admit that I didn’t have the healthiest lifestyle,” he revealed. “I’d been feeling run down, was unfit and had been putting on weight for years.
“But it was using the Know Your Risk tool at a Diabetes UK roadshow event that gave me the nudge I needed to see my GP and begin making some changes to my health.
“My diagnosis came as a shock but without it who knows what my health would be like today, or what serious complications I may have faced.”
Bob is among the 15 million people living in England with one or more common long-term health condition.
Together we want to help people answer those questions they might have about which activities are suitable, or how much exercise they should do
Jennie Price, Sport England chief executive
He is an outlier though, with the majority of those people statistically less likely to be physically active and studies showing they experience more barriers to being so.
This £1.3 million investment hopes to allow more people to be like Bob, with Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Breast Cancer Now, British Lung Foundation, MS Society, Rethink Mental Illness and Stroke Association joining Diabetes UK in conducting projects to identify and challenge the barriers to activity that people face.
“Exercising when you have a long-term health condition can be hugely beneficial to your mental and physical wellbeing but it can also be daunting,” said Jennie Price, our chief executive.
“We have chosen to work with the leading health charities to help people get active, because the charities already have the confidence of the people living with long-term health conditions.
20 chronic conditions can be managed by moderate physical activity
“Together we want to help people answer those questions they might have about which activities are suitable, or how much exercise they should do for example.
“We are committed to sharing what we learn about how to help people get active, and think this has real potential to help people lead happy, healthier lives.”
The Richmond Group of Charities consists of 14 of the country’s leading health and social care organisations and have the aim of improving care and support for the 15 million people living with long-term conditions in England.
The group’s chairman, Chris Askew, welcomed the new partnership as a positive step towards achieving their goal.
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Sport England to understand more about how best to support people with long term conditions to become and stay physically active.”