Leonardo Businaro, intern at UISP Bologna within the BE NEW project, interviewed Valentina Bignami, doctor in motor science and dietetics. 

Can a person with diabetes be able to regularly exercise?

"Yes, of course. For the person with diabetes type II, the physical activity is essential because it is therapeutic. In diabetes type I, it is a matter of managing the level of insulin and eating snacks when necessary". 

Are there any general trends, particularly in adolescence, that relate physical activity and diabetes? 

“Yes. We are speaking about diabetes type II, since it is mostly related to lifestyle, in facts it is often related to sedentary lifestyle, to unhealthy diet, with many calories, saturated fats and sugars. We are often speaking about overweight or obese people, with other diseases and relevant risk-factors". 

How can the adults diabetic people adapt their nutrition according to physical activity?

"I would concentrate on the athletes with diabetes type I: they should carefully keep appropriate glycemic level. It is important to consider many factors, as the intensity of the trainings and the competitions, not just for mental and physical efforts, but also other aspects as the travels. In facts, travels can be stressful: stress, together with the diabetes, can influence glycemic levels. It is therefore important to combine snacks, nutrition and insulin, because there are several factors that define the needs of the body. For example, it is important to consider the specific therapy and the type of insulin, as well as the duration of the activity and the intensity. Another factor to consider is certainly the timing within the day, also in relation with the blood sugar levels ".


During the past days, the project partners met for the third meeting in Komotini, in Greece, at the Democritus University of Thrace. The meeting was planned in relation with the 30rd edition of the "International Congress on physical activity & Sport science": in this frame, an interesting round-table on the BE-NEW project was also held. Several relevant topics were discussed, including the importance of physical activity for diabetic people, how to teach physical activity to diabetic kids, the importance of healthy lifestyle: more than 60 stakeholders participated.

The partners discussed also the project activities. Basically, the physical activity and sport programs have started in all the countries. The Universities are getting ready to collect and analyse data provided by the sport organisations. The recruitment of participants are anyway opened by all the partners.

"We have started over six months ago - explains Alessandro Piras, University of Bologna - with preliminary test implemented on the participants at the beginning. Then we have offered three options for the exercise: walking group, swimming pools or in the fitness centres. Some participants reacted positively and are regularly walking, other are less engaged. We have then implemented again the tests for the comparison. In the meanwhile, we are recruiting other participants" concludes Piras.


by Leonardo Businaro

In the past weeks, we have met spokeperson of varied gyms, fitness centres, sport clubs and swimming pools active in Bologna. Our goal was to understand if people with diabetes can regularly train with others. In practical, there are no restrictions, as long as the person has a regular medical certificate released by the doctor, as prescribed to anyone. In facts, the clubs can not check the healthy conditions of their members, that sometimes hide some aspects of their status.

"We had kids with diabetes in our summer camps - explains Simonetta Ludovisi from the sport club Energym - so we established a protocol to be followed: a nurse was coming on daily basys to provide the kids with appropriate medicines. When the kids were suspecting a possible crysis, they were undergoing a self-test, in case they were ready to eat a cookie to re-balance their status, We have also experienced a grup composed by school mates, aware of the issues of the diabetic kids: in this case, they were ready to help and integrate the kids. Often, the parents are very worried for their kids, but usually with the time passing, they get more relaxed and confortable".

Many tendencies identified in our research, are valid for everyone: for example, the clubs generally try to include the new members in existing groups. Another important theme is the nutrition: "Few seasons ago we had a player expert in nutrition - explains Marco Nanetti from the volleyball club Savena - so we organised few meeting with the parents of our young members: in facts, we have noticed some issues in this domain, in particular among teeen-agers. We would like to deliver more activities in this domain, but we need more funds and resources: in this moment, unfortunately, we are struggling to find them".


Beside Radio Capodistria, active mostly in dissemination, the Slovenia is represented also by the ŠUS – Sportna Unija Slovenije (Slovenian Sports Union), a broad national network of local sport clubs active mostly in recreational sport.

»The Slovenian Sports Union – explains the vice president Patrik Peroša – is in charge of the sport-for-all programs in Slovenia: for us is crucially important to raise awareness on healthy and active lifestyle. Under the slogan »United in the movement« we underline the importance of the movement in relation with health, quality of life and wellbeing. Sport-for-all is important because our bodies are created to move, we have about 650 muscles and a widespread system of nerves dedicated to the movements. When we train our muscles, we train our brain: many researchers have identified a close link between physical activity and brain development«.

Why did you decide to join the project »Be New«?

»Regular physical activity– explains Peroša - generates many benefits fort he health also for diabetic people. Anyway, before starting any physical activity program, is important to be aware of the specific conditions of the subjects. ŠUS joined this project to get to know better this area and to contribute to develop the »learning outcomes« offering our experience in the training-for-trainers activities«.

The physical activity programs are going to be held around Novo Mesto, in the southern part of the country.


The first thirteen months of the project have been strongly influenced by the pandemic. In facts, the grassroot physical activity and sport programmes are among the activities particularly influenced by the rules aimed by limitating the diffusion of the covid. Consequentely, it could be more complicated to launch innovative projects as Be New. Therefore, in this first part of the projects, the consortium worked mostly on educational and training activities.

The partners have delivered two cycles of seminars to Greek and Italian university students. Then, a set of training and educational materials for teachers have been created and translated: dedicated training programs are about to start, in the different project countries (Italy, Greece, Romania, Slovenia and Spain). In the meanwhile, the partners have started to recruit the participants for the walking, swimming and training programs created specifically for people with diabetes.  At this link, you can find the relevant contacts:


Among the Italian partners of the project there is also the Bologna Committee of the UISP (Italian Sport-For-All Union), which is active in promoting sport, physical activity, societal development, health and well-being for individuals of any ages. Teresa Di Stefano, head of educational services within UISP Bologna ansnswered to some questions.

Why did you decide to participate in this project?

“The Be-New project allows us to promote well-being of citizens, in particular those affected by diabetes. The idea is to standardize physical activity also for people having some diseases: we should work with calm and tranquility".

What contributions can you offer?

“We want to share our experiences and discuss with the other partners if the difficulties or strengths that we faced in the past can be shared internationally. In facts, we have been working for many years on promoting physical activity as a prevention tool for many chronic degenerative diseases, not just diabetes".

What opportunities can the Be New project offer?

“The project offers us the opportunity to remove this prejudices that many of us have, including the patients, about the participation in physical activity programs, about the possibility of socializing in a very complex moment. In facts, it can be complex to work with people having diabetes or other chronic degenerative diseases. But we believe that our protocols and our welcoming approach based on calm, can provide everyone with the possibility of participating properly in sport and physical activity programs".

"One of the key objectives of the project - concludes Teresa Di Stefano - is to train qualified personnel in order to create a proper basis for welcoming the participants in our programs, a base built on the awareness of being properly trained and prepared for manage the project activities ".


The training of trainers, coaches and physical education teachers, the academic research and the first steps of the physical activity programs were the key pillars of the program of the second meeting in presence of the project “BE-NEW”, held in Bologna in the third week of October 2021. The partners discussed many relevant details of the project and agreed upon the next steps.

The program included also few interesting visits, including the Museum of Specola, Palazzo Poggi and the Museum “Luigi Cattaneo”, through which the participants could get a deeper understanding on the history of science, medicine and the University of Bologna, the organizer of the meeting.

“I am very satisfied – commented Andrea Meoni, technician at the "Laboratory of Perceptual-Motor Processes" of the University of Bologna. This project aims at both promoting the physical activity among people with diabetes and scientifically validating a specific training protocol. I think we are going to be succesful” concluded Meoni.


In spite of the difficulties related to the pandemic, in June 2021 many partners have managed to reach Ljubljana for the first off-line meeting, integrated with zoom for those uncapable to travel. The educational activities have been an important component of the agenda, since they have already successfully started. During the last weeks, the partners have led few online seminars on different aspects of the project. The participants were few groups of university students located in Greece and Italy. 

The students represent an important target group, since they can potentially use the competences acquired in the frame of the project in their future carrier. In the near future, we will train also physical education teachers and sport coaches/instructors: they will cover a relevant role, as coordinators of the physical activity programs for people with diabetes, under the monitoring and supervision of the Universities.

In any case, the educational activities are an important pillar of BE-NEW: once the models will be created, they will be usable also after the ending of the project.


The Romanian partner of the project " BE-NEW " is the Association Sport For All in the district of Suceava. The President, mr Mihai Androhovici, has accepted to answer to few questions.

Why have you decided to join the project?

"We have accepted the invitation for different reasons, also because we have gained relevant experience in such kind of project in the past. We have many volunteers and members that work in schools, so also with kids having diabetes. We are keen to learn more in this domain, also if in this moment the situation about grass-root sport is confused for the pandemic".

Will the number of people overweight or obese rise up after the pandemic? 

"I don't think that overweight, obesity and diabetes will be the main problems in the future, when the pandemic will be over. These problems existed also before the covid, the solutions are always the same: healthy food, healthy life-style and regular physical exercise. Personally, I believe that the main problems will be anxiety and fear, well present in the souls of many people who "close themselves" when they meet someone. Another problem is to properly organize our life, living in our spaces but interacting with the rest of the society. We must find a way to be physically active".

How important will be sport and physical activity in the near future?

“They will be more and more important since, genetically speaking, we are programmed to move and to socialize, especially after long time spent at home. Therefore, sport and physical activity will be very helpful to stay healthy and to have a regular social life"


Through an interesting online meeting, the project BE-NEW kicked off in the second half of January 2021. The initiative will try to improve the health of people with diabetes through varied programme based on walking, swimming and indoor exercises. 

The project has been supported by the EU Commission through the programme Erasmus+ Sport. The project coordinator is Milena Raffi (University of Bologna). The consortium includes organizations with different profiles, within sport, academy and communication. Simplifying, the Universities will monitor and evaluate the physical activity programme implemented by the sport organizations, in direct contact with different ages group of people with diabetes. Radio Capodistria will be active in communication and awareness raising. The partners will be also engaged in educational activities, related to varied stakeholders.

"Our work will be oriented towards making the people with diabetes more aware of the beneficial effects of the regular physical exercise - explains Milena Raffi, the project coordinator - we will also try to raise the level of physically activity among people with diabetes, a segment of population often sedentary".