Exercise and sport in diabetes - how does it work? Many questions arise and need to be discussed with the doctor according to the condition and personal performance. The certainty remains however: movement increases the performance and well-being.
What causes sports in diabetics?
- Sport promotes circulation and helps with weight loss.
- Sport has a positive effect on increased blood pressure and blood lipid levels.
- Sport is a good protection against arteriosclerosis. Overall, the risk of vascular disease decreases.
- And most important: the insulin sensitivity is improved.
Active athletes are also less susceptible to cardiovascular disease and can better deal with stressful situations. Sport is not only good for the body, but also for the soul. Exercise and sports promote the joy of life and self-confidence and create a positive attitude to life. Another advantage is the social contacts that result from diabetic sports groups, hiking days or other associations. Optimal sports for diabetics include endurance sports such as running, cycling, cross-country skiing, dancing and swimming.
What happens when diabetics are physically active?
Diabetics who inject insulin or take so-called insulinotropic medications can get into a hypoglycaemia - hypoglycaemia - through exercise. For this reason, the therapy must be adjusted to the physical activity.
Attention: Physically strenuous activities such as house cleaning, moving, gardening or snow shoveling, but also longer walks or climbing stairs can also cause a significant reduction in blood sugar. Diabetics who are being treated with a diet or who are not taking any tablets that increase insulin production can usually become physically active without having to change their therapy.
- If you want to do sports for the first time in a long time, you should have your doctor check you in advance. This is especially true for diabetics who have already suffered from complications.
- Diabetics who have problems with their feet and sports such. Walking, running or cross-country skiing, feet and soles should regularly check. Even minor injuries or pressure points can lead to ulcers that are difficult to cure in neuropathies.
Tips for insulin-injecting diabetics
- Talk to your doctor about which sport is good for you. The type, duration and intensity of physical activity have a decisive influence on the blood sugar level. In order to prevent hypoglycaemia, the insulin dose or the carbohydrate consumption must be adapted to a sporting activity.
- Regular blood sugar checks before, during and after exercise are essential, as it is difficult to estimate how much the blood sugar drops under physical stress. This is especially true for unfamiliar or new sports activities. Therefore, the test device should always be taken to the sport. In the case of hypoglycaemia also always have fast-acting carbohydrates ready.
- In case of hypoglycaemia: immediately stop exercising, add carbohydrates and take a sufficiently long break. Subsequently: cause research. The more strenuous a sport is, the more blood sugar will fall off. Note: The typical signs of hypoglycaemia such as sweating, shaking, weakness, hunger can be misinterpreted as "normal" side effects of physical stress! Test for ketone bodies at levels above 250 mg / dl. If this test is positive - avoid stressful physical activity and exercise.
- After stopping activity and at bedtime, continue to monitor blood sugar regularly. The reason: The longer and more intense a physical activity, the longer it takes the muscles to replenish the energy reserves (glycogen stores). This can take hours to days. It consumes a considerable amount of blood sugar.
- After sports, the desire for a refreshing beer is particularly great. But right now the diabetic should give it up. The hypoglycemic effects of physical exertion and alcohol can potentiate. The risk of low blood sugar increases.