THE first group taking part in the Diabetes Community Exercise and Education Programme in Invercargill is nearly finished, and already participants are reaping the benefits.
“The results so far have been very positive,” project manager Bonnie Scarth said.
“People are talking for the first time about enjoying exercise. They are making friends, and having a nurse there makes them feel safe and removes the barriers to exercise.”
In addition, some participants reported they had reduced their medications since going on the programme, she said.
“Things like this can be life changing. At no cost, just changing habits.”
Southland project manager Carmen Rewi said the Diabetes Community Exercise and Education Programme (DCEP) provided a more holistic approach which complemented other treatments used to manage type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy are running a trial to determine how effective DCEP is compared with DESMOND, a one-day self-management education programme, for people with type 2 diabetes.
DCEP is a 12-week exercise and education programme, consisting of two sessions a week incorporating 45 minutes of exercise and 45 minutes of education on how to manage diabetes.
DCEP has been run in Dunedin for nine years, but this is the first time it has been run in Southland.
Tony and Clare Van der Lem, of Invercargill, are among 10 participants in the first DCEP Invercargill group, which started in April, and they are already noticing health benefits.
Mrs Van der Lem had neurosurgery in January and found the programme had aided her recovery from brain injury in addition to improving her health and managing her diabetes.
Mrs Van der Lem said her blood sugar levels the day after an exercise session were significantly lower than what they were normally, and the programme had also increased her confidence.
“I have more energy. More get up and go,” she said.
Mr Van der Lem had only been able to attend one class a week because of other commitments, but said he had still noticed benefits in terms of his fitness and the information provided on ways to effectively manage diabetes.
Sarah Bennett had also noticed improvements to her health from taking part in the programme.
She had gone off one of her medications and no longer needed insulin, she said.
“I feel much better. I have more energy and feel more alive.”
Ms Scarth said they intended to continue the trial for another 18 months, and then hoped to secure funding to roll the programme out into the community.
The call is going out for participants for the second Southland DCEP. Participants need to have type 2 diabetes and be aged 35 years or older. Phone 0800 687 489 for more information.