The World Health Organization recommends that adults aged 18 or over should be doing 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every week. But today, 23% of adults worldwide are not meeting that recommendation. Studies show that a lack of exercise causes 3.2 million deaths per year from preventable diseases like Type II diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.1

Starting an exercise routine and sticking to it can be daunting, but that’s where friends and family can step in. Research shows that staying active with the people you are close with increases your likelihood of losing weight. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, those who join an exercise class with a friend are more likely to attend and lose weight, than those who go on their own.2

It is easy to see why! Friends and family are the best people to make sure we stick with our new exercise routine. They care about our health, and keep us motivated through the highs and lows. And we also get to spend time with people we like and care about, which makes working out more fun.

But while most people understand that exercise prevents diabetes, only 32% of people in our Sun Life Financial Asia Diabetes Awareness Study were willing to exercise to support a family member with diabetes. If you have a friend or family member who is living with diabetes, one of the best things you can do is to offer to exercise with them.

Five ways to keep fit, and enjoy it

To give you some inspiration, here are some simple ways to keep fit with your family and friends.

  • Join a beginners’ class for a sport or fitness activity that neither of you have ever done before. Learning a new skill will make it feel like you’ve accomplished something together. It could be anything from Zumba to rock climbing.
  • Instead of meeting a friend for lunch, invite them to go on a walk. It’s a great way to get talking, while taking in the scenery and doing some exercise too. Include a few steep climbs on your route to get your hearts pounding.
  • A bike ride at the weekend is a great way to get your whole family outside in the fresh air and doing some exercise – except they’ll be having too much fun to notice that! Make sure everyone one wears reflective safety gear and bike helmets. For young kids, plan a route that takes in some exciting stops, like the beach, playground, or local zoo, to keep them engaged in the adventure.
  • Get wet! Sign your whole family up for watersport lessons at your local swimming pool. Activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkeling are great aerobic exercise that can be inclusive for all ages. Just make sure you have a trained instructor, everyone can swim at least 50 meters before getting into the water without water aids, there is a lifeguard on duty, and that young children wear inflatable armbands.
  • Sign up for the Sun Life Resolution Run with your friends and family! In 2019, over 16,000 people ran a total of 110,000 kilometers, and raised C$250,000 for diabetes charities. Setting yourself a clear goal and training for it with friends and family is a great way to stay motivated.

You can read our Diabetes in Asia study here to learn more about this global health crisis, and how to reduce your risk of diabetes.

1. Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014 (World Health Organization, 2014), p. xiii.

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