Kevin Lynch has type 2 diabetes. He’s been in various states of denial about the condition over the years but here he tells us how parkrun has helped him to lose weight and improve the management of his diabetes…
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1999 and use insulin to treat it. One of my cousins died from diabetes-related complications at the age of 63 in 2014 and my relatively healthy friend Aaron died from pancreatitis complications at the age of 37 in Apr 2016. This made me realise that I needed to focus on managing my diabetes if I wanted to live long enough to be around to help my teenage son if he has a family.
Apart from taking my insulin, I knew if I really wanted to make inroads on improving the management of my diabetes I needed to lose weight and exercise more. I made it my top priority to keep my blood sugar levels under control, and I soon realised that regular exercise would help this. As I started to lose weight, running up the stairs was suddenly not as hard as it used to be, and it occurred to me that I should find a way to use this extra energy.
I’d been trying the Couch to 5k programme on the treadmill at my gym with varying degrees of success, when online running friends, who were remembering Aaron, said parkrun was a great next step from the Couch to 5k.
Despite my limited success with the Couch to 5k, I had committed to doing parkrun as part of my ‘diabetes year of care annual review’. I had walked the Tring parkrun course several times and I knew that I could definitely do it faster than the tail walker, but I was approaching my first parkrun with a certain amount of anxiety.
I completed my first parkrun on 23 September 2017. I was delighted and proud that I had completed my first ever athletic achievement. It took me 40 weeks from registering to running my first parkrun, but I’ve not missed one since and have now completed 25, including the New Year’s Day double. If it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of my friends and the members of the parkrun for people living with diabetes Facebook group, I still might not have made it to the start line! They made me realise I could do it and I wasn’t the only person with diabetes who did parkrun.
parkrun is a great way to get good, regular exercise into your life. My blood sugar levels have improved since 2016 when I started to focus on my health. And the other day I was late walking to a doctor’s appointment, I was able to jog the last 800m and was on time for my appointment – I’m crediting parkrun for that!
parkrun’s PROVE project has been set up to encourage more people with disabilities or long-term health conditions to participate at parkrun. If you’re living with diabetes we’d love to have you join parkrun UK’s official Facebook group for parkrunners living with diabetes to share advice, tips, opinions and stories on all things related to parkrun.
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