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Diabetes
&
the Outdoors
Di
p
betes Corner
p
by Maureen Sullivan, RN, CDE*
*(CDE-Certified Diabetic Educator) www.MaureenSullivanRN.com
S
pring has arrived, and with it, abundant
outdoor activities. Whether it be organized
sports, leisure walks, long bike rides or more
time at the gym, persons with diabetes should plan
accordingly to avoid exercise induced alterations
in their blood sugar (glucose) levels. Here are some
simple tips to keep your energy high and get the
most out of these fun-filled days.
Breakfast is important! You have most likely
gone 7-9 hours without a meal. Breakfast will
supply nutrition to fuel both your brain and body. It
is also important to eat this meal, as many diabetic
related medications depend on food intake to work
properly. Skipping breakfast will put a person with
diabetes at risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar
levels) which, left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Physical activity is important for everyone, especially
persons with diabetes. Exercise can improve your
blood sugar level by increasing insulin sensitivity
in your cells. Your body will use the glucose more
efficiently; thus, lowering blood sugar levels.
Exercise has also been shown to lower cholesterol,
blood pressure and stress levels. Weight loss can
occur with regular exercise, which also positively
affects blood sugar levels.
Persons with diabetes should plan
accordingly when it comes to exercise. They should
make sure that their blood sugar levels are normal
prior to starting an activity and that they have fast
acting glucose sources available in case their blood
sugar levels drop due to exercise. They should
also stay hydrated during extensive exercise. Most
persons with diabetes recommend checking your
blood sugar level before engaging in extended
(or new) activities, eating a snack if need be, and
carrying fast acting glucose medications or foods
with them.
Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low
blood glucose levels below 70mg/dl) may include
sweating, jittery feeling, confusion, weakness,
dizziness, hunger, and nervousness or anxiety. Fast
acting sources of glucose, used to treat low blood
sugar levels, may include glucose tablets or gel, 4
ounces of juice or soda, 2 tablespoons of raisins,
hard candies or jelly beans. The goal is to eat/drink
15 grams of carbohydrates at this time and recheck
a blood glucose level in 15 minutes, repeating x 1 if
needed.
Spring brings with it the opportunity to
enjoy outdoor activities, which may improve our
overall health and well-being. Take advantage of
the warmer weather, get outside and enjoy the
season!
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