Did you know that many awesome athletes have diabetes?
Like anyone else, people with diabetes are healthier if they get plenty of exercise.
They also have the same chances of excelling at sports. Whether you want to go for
the gold or just go hiking in your hometown, your diabetes won't hold you back.
How Exercise Helps People With Diabetes
Exercise is an important part of managing diabetes and staying healthy in other
ways. Here are some of the benefits of exercise:
It helps your body use insulin
(pronounced: IN-suh-lin), a hormone that helps your body get the energy from the foods
It burns calories and builds muscle, which helps you reach and stay at a healthy
It reduces your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
It improves coordination, balance, strength, and endurance.
It can increase your energy level.
It helps you feel good about yourself and your abilities.
It relieves tension and stress,
relaxes you, and boosts your mood, too.
All exercise is great — from walking the dog or riding a bike to playing
team sports — just be sure to be active every day. Changing your exercise habits
might be hard at first, but once you start feeling how exercise helps your body, it'll
be easier to continue.
Your doctor will help you get ready to exercise or join a sport. These tips can
Test yourself. Your doctor will tell you when to test your blood sugar. You might
need to do it before, during, and after exercise.
Take insulin if you need it. Your doctor also might change your
insulin dosage for exercise or sports. If you inject
insulin, try not to inject a part of your body used for your sport before practice
(like injecting your leg before soccer). If you wear an insulin pump, make sure that
it's not in the way when you play. If it is, talk to your parents or doctor about
what to do.
Eat right. Your doctor will also help you figure out what to
eat to keep going. You might need extra snacks before, during, or after exercise.
Aside from that, you can just stick to your normal meal plan.
Bring snacks and water. Whether you're playing a football game
at school or swimming in your backyard, you should have snacks and water nearby.
Pack it up. If you will be exercising away from home, have a
parent help you pack testing supplies, medications, your medical alert bracelet, emergency
contact information, and a copy of your diabetes management plan.
Tell your coaches. If you're playing organized sports, be sure
that your coaches know about your diabetes. Tell them the things that you need to
do to control diabetes before, during, or after a game.
Take control. You're in control of your own health. Feel free
to stop playing a sport or exercising if you need to drink water, eat a snack for
low blood sugar, go to the bathroom, or check your glucose levels. Also, stop if you
feel any signs that something is wrong.
What to Watch For
When kids with diabetes exercise, a few things may happen in the body. They can
get get low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia
(say: hi-po-gly-SEE-me-uh). Or they can get high blood sugar, called hyperglycemia
You may have low blood sugar if you are:
having a headache
having problems concentrating
You may have high blood sugar if you:
feel very thirsty
have to pee a lot
feel very tired
have blurry vision
If you're starting a new exercise routine, like training for a sport, your doctor
might have you change your insulin dosage to prevent these problems. Also, keep an
eye on cuts, scrapes, or blisters and be sure to tell your parents or doctor right
away if they're really red, swollen, or if they're oozing pus — they might be
infected, which can make your diabetes harder to control.
Kids with type 1 diabetes
shouldn't exercise if they have substances called ketones
(say: KEE-tones) in their blood. When this happens, exercise can make things worse,
and you can get very sick. Your doctor will tell you how to figure out if you have
ketones, treat this problem, and get back on track.
Your doctor will also write down what you should do if any problems happen. For
example, you might need to take a break, drink water, or have a snack. If you notice
any of these signs, stop exercising and follow your instructions.
You're All Set!
Your doctor says it's OK and you know how to take care of your diabetes. You're
all set to get plenty of healthy exercise. Now get moving!