Conquering Diabetes with GLL 

Published on: July 9th 2024

Vinod Mistry is living proof that you can manage diabetes long-term through diet and exercise – and go on to complete some of the world’s most gruelling physical challenges. 

Vinod – who lives in Barnet – was referred to the local ‘Healthwise’ team at Better leisure centres in 2016 following a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Adhering to a regime of gym workouts and fitness classes at Better’s Copthall Leisure Centre, along with medication from his doctors, he managed to get his glucose-levels under control and in autumn 2022, at the age of 67, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. In doing so, he and his team-mates raised £13,222 for charity. 

Eager to follow up on his first climbing feat, the following year, he set off for the Himalayas, facing snowfall, freezing temperatures and poor visibility with an eight-day ascent to the base camp at an altitude of 5,364m. Fortunately, he didn’t experience any altitude sickness and kept himself on top form by regularly monitoring his glucose and oxygen levels. 

Vinod comments, “The exercise classes run by Barnet’s Healthwise team were motivational and enjoyable, my fitness levels improved considerably and this inspired me to continue attending the gym. I gradually stepped up my exercise routine and built up my stamina over the years and now I am fitter and confident enough to participate in challenging activities, climbing high-altitude mountains, which I never thought possible. 

“I feel more in control of my medical conditions and I wish to continue challenging myself. I am very grateful to Billy and his Barnet team for helping me through my journey. This would not have been possible without their continuous support and positivity.” 

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar in the blood (glucose) to become too high and can increase the risk of developing problems with your eyes, heart, feet and nerves. Symptoms can include, tiredness, thirst and frequent urination but some people have no indications at all. According to the NHS website, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help to balance sugar levels and keep the condition under control. 

Statistics from the London Borough of Barnet reveal the following – 

In Barnet, around 4,500 people (16% of those expected to be diabetic) are potentially diabetic and undiagnosed. 

Around a quarter of adults in Barnet (23.7%), took part in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, during 2019-20.  

In 2019-20, over half (57%) of adults in Barnet were estimated to be Barnet’s Healthwise Coordinator, Billy Phillips, adds, “With the prevalence of medical conditions increasing, along with sedentary lifestyles, the Barnet Healthwise programme provides a great opportunity for borough residents to be referred by a healthcare professional in to our service. We aim to increase people’s physical activity levels through structured support whilst aiming to modify their lifestyle behaviours with advice and guidance from our team. In time, this will help contribute towards the management of existing risk factors and long-term medical conditions.  

“The programmes we offer include a falls prevention programme for those who have a fear or are at risk of falling, cancer rehabilitation, and an adult weight management programme where people can self-refer. Each programme has its own inclusion criteria, and provides access to gym, swim and fitness classes on our subsidised membership.”  

To mark Diabetes Week (10-16 June), a Barnet Public Health led event will be at Brent Cross shopping centre on Friday 14th June from 10am to 6pm as part of a free event offering people on-the-spot, diabetes risk-assessments. 

To find out more about Barnet’s Healthwise programme, visit – FAB Hub – Health & Wellbeing (better.org.uk) 

Other partners present on the day include Diabetes UK, diabetes nurses and a dietician from Central London Community Healthcare (CLCH) and NHS Barnet Talking Therapies. 

Barnet leisure centres are run by charitable social enterprise GLL under the ‘Better’ brand. The organisation is committed to supporting the wellbeing of local communities. 

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