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SFA unveils third edition of ‘Step Together' challenge to observe World Diabetes Day
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 10 - 2020

RIYADH — The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has unveiled the third edition of the "Step Together" challenge to mark World Diabetes Day.
The walk-run challenge, which is being organized by the SFA in partnership with global healthcare company Novo Nordisk and the Royal Danish Embassy, will begin on Nov. 4 and end on Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day.
In a press statement, the SFA has called on people of all ages and abilities to unite in the name of health and participate in the virtual challenge.
Adults are challenged to walk or run 21.1km, while children are challenged to walk or run 14km, with every finishing participant receiving a medal for their achievement and all competitors receiving certificates of participation.
"Over the course of the 11 days, and especially on Nov. 14, we want to see our healthy active community head out. Bringing all of your family members to walk or run on World Diabetes Day," said Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed, the president of the SFA.
"Tag us in your photos and videos; let us know that you're participating in Step Together for wellness and increased education on diabetes prevention and management."
Promoting wellbeing and encouraging a healthy lifestyle in people across Saudi Arabia are core tenets of the SFA. The event is being staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, part of the Kingdom's wide-ranging Vision 2030 development plans.
Focusing on World Diabetes Day, the challenge is supported closely by the Ministry of Sports and the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.
The virtual event hones in on a health condition that affects around 4.26 million adults in Saudi Arabia (18.3 percent of the population), and more than 7 million adults in the wider Gulf region (16.9 percent), according to figures from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). The IDF data demonstrates regional diabetes prevalence as follows: Kuwait (22 percent), followed by Saudi Arabia, then Bahrain (16.3 percent), the United Arab Emirates (15. percent), and Oman (8 percent).
Diabetes is described by the World Health Organization as "a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves". Type 2 diabetes is the most common variety, occurring when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn't make enough insulin.
Regular exercise has been proven to lower blood sugar in two main ways, explains the American Diabetes Association. Firstly, "insulin sensitivity is increased, so your muscle cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity." Secondly, when muscles contract during activity, cells are able to take up glucose and use it for energy whether insulin is available or not.
Technical details aside, a key factor in using exercise to prevent or manage diabetes is consistency; ensuring active habits are easy to establish and maintain.
In Saudi Arabia, the combined efforts of the SFA, Ministry of Sport, and numerous partners from the private and public sectors, mean residents have easy access to a wide range of high quality exercise option across the Kingdom. Whether exercising individually, as a family, or as part of a community sports group, the SFA and other stakeholders have created a level playing field for everybody to stay fit and healthy.
Through community events, online workouts, the activation of public parks, healthy living campaigns, or other avenues, the Federation has also helped make physical activity fun and enjoyable – a vital ingredient in establishing regular movement.
Among its various events, activities, and campaigns, the SFA's first edition of the "Step Together" challenge took place in July, with more than 2,600 people run and walk either half or full marathons across 10 days, covering a combined distance of 44,850 km. The second edition in partnership with Nike took place between Oct. 4 and 13, with people taking part in a series of four challenges, at distances of 15 km, 20 km, 25 km, and 30 km; a combined distance of 90 km, in honor of Saudi Arabia's 90th National Day.

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