Diabetes and Sports

It feels great to get out and grind the pavement on a cool summer morning; throw caution to the wind; feel like you can do anything; create some overly ambitious plan for the day in your mind; rekindle those old dreams you had 15 years ago…and generally feel like a superhero.

Sports can be an addiction and a balm for the stressed soul, all at the same time. However, what about the diabetic sports enthusiast? By educating yourself and taking control of your diabetes, you can get out there with the best of them.

Primarily, you just have to keep in mind that every time you head out to participate in an athletic activity, you will be lowering your blood sugar. Keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range is the key to being able to manage diabetes while participating in sports. “Manage” is the imperative word, here. To manage diabetes requires a commitment to yourself. If you are wiling to make that commitment, you will be able to relax and have fun while enjoying any sport.

Here is a list of nine tips to manage your blood glucose levels.

  1. Before any sports activity, be sure to eat both protein and carbohydrates. Protein helps to sustain the blood level and the carbohydrates will provide the energy. Eating anything afterwards should be primarily proteins to help and repair muscle.
  2. Skip the high fatty foods before any sports activity. Fat takes a while to digest. If you give yourself insulin before the game, you are probably going to go low because the insulin is absorbed faster than the fat.
  3. At every sports activity make sure you have a sugary drink close by. After hard exercise, blood glucose levels will go low and your metabolism can take longer to slow down and level out. Your metabolism will continue driving your glucose levels lower. You may want to use the sugary drink to make up for the lower glucose levels.
  4. Staying in control during any athletic activity requires being proactive by checking your blood levels. This means while you are actively engaged in the game or whatever activity you are doing. Letting your blood sugar fluctuate drastically means poor performance. Blurred vision, slow reaction speed and shaking hands indicate your blood glucose levels are too high or too low. Checking your blood during a game can prevent this.
  5. You may be worried you are going to go low, but try to avoid giving less insulin for your pre-sports meal. You can always make adjustments as you go. You want to start the game at normal level as much as possible.
  6. After the game, you may find you have dropped lower than normal and are starving. Take control at this point and eat only moderately. You do not want to overeat and cause your level to spike high. The up and down levels wreak havoc on your body.
  7. Try to recognize what foods work best before and after exercise for keeping your blood sugar balanced. Then stick with those foods. Over time this can simplify process of keeping blood levels normal.
  8. Diabetes Excercise before SportsAfter checking your levels during an athletic activity, you may find that you have gone low. Take a break; drink something to bring the level up and rest for five to ten minutes. Taking time to rest allows the body to absorb glucose and normalize. Do not try to skip resting. You will probably just cause your blood level to drop again and it will take even longer to normalize.
  9. Decide set times to check your blood. Whether it is a halftime break or a short break while running, it is essential to see how your body is maintaining your sugar levels. Because the stressors fluctuate, you may find your readings are inconsistent. Even more reason to stay on top of checking your levels periodically. Having to sit on the sidelines because you did not make the effort to track your levels can be frustrating.

Whatever sport is your passion, you have to stay ahead of diabetes. Monitoring food intake, checking blood levels, and simply planning ahead can make diabetes and sports not only possible, but a way to improve your health and well-being for years to come. Be sure to check out ACCU-CHEK, they offer some really neat and useful ways to manage diabetes and sports that will help you perform best!