relieves tension and stress, relaxes you, and boosts your mood, too
can even help you clear your mind and focus your attention better
All exercise is great — whether it's walking the dog or playing team sports.
Just be sure to do it every day. Changing exercise habits can be hard for everyone
at first. But most people say that once they start feeling the benefits, they're hooked.
After that, it's a lot easier to keep going. But there are some facts you need to
know about exercise and diabetes.
What Happens During Exercise?
The muscles need more energy during exercise, so the body releases extra sugar,
or glucose. For people
with diabetes, this can have some side effects. For example, if the body doesn't have
enough insulin to use the glucose that's released during exercise, then the glucose
stays in the blood, which leads to high blood sugar levels. This is called hyperglycemia
Not having enough insulin to use the sugar in the blood can also cause the body
to burn fat for fuel. When the body starts to burn fat for fuel, substances called
ketones are produced.
People with diabetes shouldn't exercise if they have high levels of ketones in their
blood because this can make them really sick. If you have type 1 diabetes, your doctor
will tell you how to check for ketones (you may need to take a urine test before exercising)
and treat yourself to get back on track.
The body's need for extra glucose during exercise can also cause low blood sugar
levels (called hypoglycemia,
pronounced: hy-po-gly-SEE-mee-uh). Low blood sugar can happen when the body uses up
all the sugar that it's stored so there's no more to be released as glucose when the
muscles demand it. This is especially true if insulin levels in the blood are still
high after taking an injection.
You may need to check blood sugar levels and have an extra snack to prevent low
blood sugar levels. If you're starting a rigorous exercise schedule, like training
for a sport, your doctor may recommend that you adjust your insulin dosage to prevent
low blood sugar levels.
Getting Ready to Exercise
All teens — not just those with diabetes — need to get a physical before
they play a sport. Your doctor will let you know about any changes you should make
to your testing schedule or medication while exercising or playing sports.
The doctor is likely to give the green light to any activities you want to start
— after all, exercise is an important part of diabetes management. However,
doctors may recommend that you steer clear of certain adventure sports like rock climbing,
hang gliding, or scuba diving. That's because a person could be seriously hurt if
he or she has low blood sugar levels while doing these sports.
Exercise Tips for People With Diabetes
These tips can help you avoid diabetes problems during exercise:
Test yourself. Your doctor will tell you when to test your glucose
levels — often you'll need to check them before, during, and after exercise.
Take the right dose of insulin. Your doctor might recommend adjusting
your insulin dosage for exercise or sports. If you inject insulin, you might not want
to inject a part of your body used for your sport before exercise (like injecting
your leg before soccer). This could cause the insulin to be absorbed too quickly.
If you wear an insulin pump, be sure that it won't be in the way for exercise and
that it won't get disconnected. Talk to your doctor about what you should do when
you want to go without the pump.
Eat right. Your diabetes health
care team will also help you adjust your meal
plan so you have enough energy for exercise. For example, you might need to eat
extra snacks before, during, or after working out. Be sure to maintain the proper
diet for your diabetes — don't try strategies like loading up on extra carbs
before running or cutting back on food or water to get down to a certain weight for
wrestling. These activities can be dangerous for people with diabetes.
Bring snacks and water. Whether you're playing football at the
school or swimming in your backyard, keep snacks and water nearby.
Pack it up. If you'll be exercising away from home, pack your
testing supplies, medications, medical alert bracelet, emergency contact information,
and a copy of your diabetes management plan. Keep these items in a special bag that
you don't have to pack and repack every time you go out.
Tell your coaches. Be sure that your coaches know about your
diabetes. Tell them about the things you need to do to control diabetes that might
happen before, during, or after a game.
Take control. Don't hesitate to stop playing or take a break
in your exercise routine if you need to eat a snack, drink water, or go to the bathroom.
You should also take a break if you feel any signs that something is wrong.
What to Watch Out for
Your doctor will help you learn what blood
sugar levels make it a good or bad time to exercise. He or she will also explain
how to take action and get back in the game. If you notice any of the signs listed
below, stop exercising and follow your diabetes management plan.
Also, keep an eye on any cuts, scrapes, or blisters, and talk to your doctor if
they're really red, swollen, or oozing pus — these could be signs of infection.
By being prepared and knowing how to follow your diabetes management plan, you'll
be able to prevent diabetes problems during exercise. After all, professional athletes
follow a training and nutrition program to keep them playing their best — just
think of your diabetes management plan as your own personal roadmap to exercise success.