After months of grey skies, you wake up one morning and all of the sudden the birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the air is warm with a nice cool breeze. It’s officially springtime and that makes us all happier that summer is on its way. We love spring because we feel like getting outside to do the things, we have been putting off all winter long. Getting outside doesn’t come without some draw backs like allergies and sunburn if you are not careful, but there are many benefits to getting outside even with having diabetes.
Most diabetics experience better number control when they have regular physical activity during the week. It doesn’t have to be extremely hard workouts either, an easy walk around the neighborhood is usually enough to bring my numbers way down. Exercise benefits you in two ways; it brings down the glucose currently in your bloodstream by burning it as energy for your cells. Also it increases your insulin sensitivity so when you take insulin later the body responds to it better and it takes less of a dose to bring your sugars down to a normal range.
Many people who have been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes are afraid of too much exercise because they have felt their sugar get dangerously low when they did. This is always a possibility but there are a few tips to keep up your numbers and get your daily exercise in. First rule is to make sure you eat before you go out and do any physical activity. Your body needs fuel to run so make sure you eat mostly protein and veggies with a little bit of carbs to keep you going. Second is to always check your sugar before beginning any physical work. If you are below 150 mg/dL then you should eat or drink something to get you up a little bit. Another tip is taking juice with you to sip on and if you want you could measure half a cup of juice with half a cup of water so you can hydrate and get your sugar up while doing your exercise. Another tip is to check your pump to see if it has an exercise setting and if not maybe stop deliveries or disconnect from your pump while you are working out. That way your body isn’t exercising and getting insulin to bring down your sugars at the same time.
Protein is kind of a staple in the diabetic’s diet and if you are going to be working out a lot it’s like a secret weapon in the fight to control blood sugars. The amino acids in proteins that the body has to break down take a while to process and the body processes them like small amounts of carbs throughout the day. Which can help keep your numbers steadier throughout the day. It also helps if you incorporate more complex carbohydrates into your diet like granola and whole wheat bread. These won’t spike your blood sugar as much as regular carbohydrates like processed flour and straight sugar will and have you come crashing back down only an hour or so later.
Exercise not only helps improve our glucose levels, but also our state of mind, stress levels, and our overall health. Getting out just 3-4 times a week can help extend our lifespan by several years and may also decrease your chances of developing certain kinds of cancer. Regular exercise has also been proven to decrease the risk of suicide. It is beneficial to exercise with a partner this is especially a good idea for diabetics because if you do go low during exercise, it would be helpful to have someone who could run to get anything you need. Having an accountability partner will remind you when it’s time to exercise and make the process more fun by having someone to joke around with. It could be as simple as reminding your partner to stretch before a walk or run to being a spotter at the gym. Whatever you like to do to work out do it with a friend and it will make the time fly by and help improve your mood. Friends not only can make the process more fun but can push us far beyond what we thought we could accomplish.
By: Miranda Montgomery (Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years) Admin for Type 1 Diabetes Support Group on Facebook with 13.6 K members