Effect of group walks on diabetes

Organised exercise reduces body weight and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. But when they stop, their blood sugar level rises again. However, nine months after the last organised walk, the weight remained significantly lower. The overall well-being of the participants who continued walking remained significantly higher than at the start.

These are the main conclusions of a study carried out by IQ healthcare of the Radboud UMC and Star-shl diagnostic centres during the last National Diabetes Challenge.

During the annual National Diabetes Challenge, an initiative of the Bas van de Goor Foundation, some 4,000 people with diabetes and/or other chronic conditions go on walks in organised groups for a period of 20 weeks, accompanied by a professional coach. At the most recent edition, some of the participants had their data collected immediately after the final walk and a new, proven reliable point-of-care test was done with a finger prick to measure the average blood sugar level of the past 3 months: the HbA1c. This value, along with other personal data, was compared to the values at the start of the group walks 20 weeks earlier and repeated after 3 and 9 months, immediately after the first wave of COVID-19 (2020).

The participants were enthusiastic about the group walks and the replacement of the classical venepuncture procedure (elbow prick) with the finger prick test (Afinion, Abbott). They recommend the new test to other diabetics and would like to have HbA1c tested in the same way in daily general practice.

The Jan Schueler Foundation is supporting this initiative on the basis of its objective to make new laboratory diagnostics available for primary care.