November is National Diabetes Month, and the focus is on combining physical activity and a healthy diet to manage blood glucose. Usually this combination is recommended more so for Type-2 diabetes where insulin is produced but not used by the body for various reasons.
On the other hand, in Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes patients must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump, as well as manage their diet and exercise habits.
While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, and treatment is often more focused on insulin than lifestyle measures, there are still benefits of physical activity for people with type 1.
Diabetes Month: Exercise Is Key
People with type 1 diabetes enjoy the same mental and physical health benefits that physical activity provides to others, including improved sleep quality, reduced chronic disease risk, weight management, reduced depression risk, lower stress, and a slowing of cognitive decline. Physical activity is linked to better self-confidence and academic performance in kids, and that’s no different for kids with type 1.
Diabetes Month: Learn How Exercise Affects Blood Sugar
There are a number of factors that can influence blood sugar levels on any given day. For example, certain types of workouts affect blood sugar response differently. High intensity interval training can cause blood glucose to rise in the short-term because it activates stress hormones. On the flip side, moderate, long-term activity like running generally lowers blood sugar. Other factors that influence blood sugar levels include competition and a phenomenon called “delayed onset hypoglycemia”, which causes lower blood sugar levels 7-12 hours after exercise.
Diabetes Month: Keep A Record
Regularly testing blood glucose levels and recording influencing factors such as what you are eating, the type of workout, and alcohol intake can help to identify potential issues and determine how to troubleshoot them when they arise. Check their numbers at different times before and after workouts and record them, along with food and exercise.
Diabetes Month: Plan Workouts And Meals In Advance
Schedule time for physical activity in advance and then plan meals, blood glucose monitoring, and insulin infusion around that time. This can ensure glucose levels are in a safe range while you workout. It’s also a good idea to plan healthy meals with complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein, and carry a snack in case hypoglycemia strikes unexpectedly.
While treatment for type 1 diabetes consists of carbohydrate counting and insulin replacement, exercise can also be an important part of overall health. A plan combining proper nutrition with regular exercise can help keep your Type-1 diabetes under control, live long, and prosper.
A good thing to remember during November is Diabetes Month.