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1,000 Kiwis have Jumpstarted their health

Jumpstart, the national diabetes health and lifestyle programme created by the YMCA Auckland and healthcare company Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd, has reached a milestone this week with it’s 1000th participant signing up.

Since its launch in 2015 the programme has attracted people from all sorts of backgrounds to meet once a week, over 10 weeks, to learn about exercise, nutrition and lifestyle change.

Common results from the programme include weight loss, lower waist measurements and blood pressure, improved mental health and confidence about a healthy future.

The next Jumpstart programme starts at YMCAs across the country on Monday 23rd July.

Chandra Selvadurai, Managing Director of Pharmaco, says the programme is aimed at tackling the personal and family impact of what is becoming one of New Zealand’s biggest health challenges:

“We set out with the YMCA to help people manage this serious condition by providing practical advice about exercise, nutrition and lifestyle. Together we’ve done a good job but with the growing numbers of diagnoses we are facing as a country we need to do way more,” he says.

“The programme is a central part of our commitment to improve the lives of people who live daily with diabetes, to help each person, as well as their family and community.”

In 2015, Diabetes New Zealand reported the number of people in the country living with diabetes had grown from 125,000 to 250,000 in ten years, and there were estimates that another 1.1 million could be pre-diabetic and undiagnosed. There have been many more diagnoses since then.

Compounding this are growing levels of obesity, one of the main precursors to Type 2 diabetes. A new study from Otago University has predicted 2 million New Zealanders could be considered clinically obese in the next 20 years.

Andrew Howard, interim CEO of YMCA Auckland, says the best way to address an issue like diabetes is as a community:

“Our philosophy as a not for profit is to help build strong families and communities, and this is founded on good health, lifestyle and activity.

“To achieve this we use the resources and expertise we have, including facilities, gyms and trainers, to help people to get moving, no matter their size, so they can be more healthy.

“Jumpstart is a great example of doing this as a community. People on the programme learn together, share stories, encourage each other and achieve goals. Many friendships start on Jumpstart,” says Andrew Howard.

One of Pharmaco’s and the YMCA’s commitments is no one should be excluded from accessing the Jumpstart education. Help is available to those who can’t afford the $80 fee for the entire 10-week programme. The programme is also available for support through Green Prescriptions.

For people who are pre-diabetic, exercise and lifestyle programmes, like Jumpstart, can help delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. However, for many the prospect of having to go to the gym is daunting.

When Jumpstart participant Karen Turner was asked if she’d ever thought about going to a gym before she said:

“Hell no, but the YMCA is not your typical gym – there are Mums and Dads, children and grandparents, no one is judging you and you can wander, or wobble, around and feel comfortable.”

Karen was facing severe health issues but following the Jumpstart programme she’s reported lower blood sugar levels, healthier eating habits, and has lost 7 kilos and counting.

Another participant, Marion Wikaire has attended the YMCA in Panmure for five years and has been through the Jumpstart programme twice.

“They really personalise it for each individual”, she says. “Even if you’ve done it before, they continue to help you work towards your goals and push yourself every step of the way. I’m always learning new things”.

She also says: “it’s your own enthusiasm that keeps you motivated. Programmes like this are great for communities and they’re effective especially because everyone encourages each other to keep at it”.

Jumpstart runs four times a year at 14 YMCAs in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Invercargill. The programme includes access to any YMCA gym for the duration of the course. There are many participants who have gone through two or three programmes and continue to see positive results.

Each Jumpstart programme is celebrated with a graduation ceremony where participants can share their stories with family and friends.

For more information on the Jumpstart programme and how to enroll visit:


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