Dancing through National Diabetes Week

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

We all know how important it is to have healthy bodies and healthy minds. But have you ever wondered how the two can be connected?

Healthy bodies and healthy minds are linked in this year’s theme for National Diabetes Week, ‘Heads Up’.

The Heads Up campaign shines a light on how living with diabetes can affect a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as their physical health.

When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood.

Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. High levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications.

Diabetes NSW reports that someone living with diabetes may make up to 180 extra decisions a day compared to the average person.

These decisions can relate to food, medicines, checking insulin, physical activity, and many other health areas that are important for people living with diabetes.

This can be stressful and as a result, one third of all people who live with diabetes will experience anxiety, depression or stress related to their chronic disease.

National Diabetes Week 2020 aims to remind us that living with diabetes can affect many areas of a person’s health – mental and physical.

This year’s theme is also a reminder that there are many people are living with diabetes who are not just managing their disease, but thriving.

Western Sydney Local Health District Multicultural Health Worker Dipti Zachariah, found a way to not only reduce the effects of her diabetes, but also improve her physical and mental health.

For Dipti, the answer was dancing.

Dipti says she simply “feels better” when she is dancing.

“My doctor gave me three months to reduce my blood glucose by making a lifestyle change,” she said.

“I had to be creative in my approach to managing diabetes – dancing is fun, free and fulfilling – it’s been a year and I’ve been waltzing.”

Dancing after meals not only made Dipti feel good, but it helped her to lose weight.

Although regular exercise is an important part of diabetes management, lots of people find it hard to maintain.

For Dipti, the reasons she is able to stick with dancing are simple: she enjoys it; she doesn’t need special equipment; and it doesn’t take long, so it’s easy for Dipti to fit into her day.  

“I don’t want physical activity to be daunting,” she said.

“At work, managing a portfolio that focuses on empowering women from refugee and migrant backgrounds to own their health, motivated me to literally ‘dance the talk’.”

Western Sydney Diabetes director Professor Glen Maberly speaks to patient Jim Zammit.

Director of Western Sydney Diabetes, Professor Glen Maberly, said Western Sydney is a diabetes “hotspot” with rates well over the state average.

“Diabetes is a serious condition that needs ongoing support,” Professor Maberly said.

“Early diagnosis and treatment is the very best approach to minimising the effect that this disease can have on a patient’s long term health.

“It’s important that the patient builds a relationship with their GP who can help with their diabetes and link them with other health care providers to benefit from all the support a team of experts can provide.”

Professor Maberly is a great supporter of getting all his patients more active.

“We find that our patients who exercise regularly have better control of their diabetes and also tend to be generally healthier and happier,” he said.

“I always say that you should choose an exercise you’re going to enjoy and any exercise at all is better than nothing. The important thing is – just get moving.”

Picking an exercise you enjoy and making small changes to your routine will help over the longer term, advised Rachael Graham from the Centre for Population Health’s Healthy Eating Active Living team.

“You don’t need to run a marathon once a week. Dipti reminded us all that just a few extra minutes of activity a day can make a difference,” Rachael said.

You can get involved too! This National Diabetes Week we’re asking our community to dance with Dipti to beat diabetes!

Send a short video of you, your team, or your family dancing to Better When I’m Dancin’ by Friday 17th July to WSLHD-CentreForPopulationHealth@health.nsw.gov.au. The videos will be shared on the Western Sydney Health Facebook page, showcasing how we celebrated the week. 

For more information about National Diabetes Week: www.diabetesnsw.com.au/event/national-diabetes-week-2020/ or contact