Diabetes and Endurance Sports
Regular, moderate exercise can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and reduce or slow complications from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. But what about more intense physical activity such as endurance sports including marathons and triathlons? With healthy training and nutrition management to meet individualized goals, people with diabetes can achieve improved blood glucose control and fewer hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes while participating in endurance sports.
Before You Begin
When it comes to sports, diabetes management always is the first priority. First, talk to your diabetes doctor about an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitor and pre-training medical testing. Determine your safe blood glucose range for training and competing. Once you've gotten the go-ahead from your doctor, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports and diabetes care.
When You Start
Avoiding hypoglycemia is important before, during and after endurance training. If blood sugar is 70 to 100 mg/dl before exercise, then a snack that includes 15 grams of carbohydrate is recommended. For exercise that lasts longer than 60 minutes, additional carbohydrate may be needed to keep blood sugar within a safe range. When starting an endurance sport, follow these five tips:
Check your blood sugar frequently, and stay in the blood glucose range that you and your physician decide upon.
Always carry a quickly absorbable form of glucose — glucose tablets, sports drinks, gels or energy bars — when training.
Train with a partner until you are skilled at avoiding hypoglycemia.
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