Get Up and Go!
Summer’s activities can improve how you feel with diabetes
Welcome back to the great outdoors! With the hard winter we experienced in much of the nation now just a memory, it is exciting to get out into nature again. The summer months can be filled with lots of outside activities. Taking part in them is great for everyone’s health, particularly for people with diabetes.
Exercise is a critical component of diabetes care. The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults with diabetes engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes per day five days a week and that children with diabetes or prediabetes exercise 60 minutes per day. Exercise offers a wide range of health-promoting effects, including:
- Reaching or maintaining an optimal weight.
- Improving your sense of well-being.
- Increasing fitness and heart health.
- Attaining better cholesterol levels.
- Improving your body’s use of insulin, whether it’s insulin made by your own pancreas or given by injection or pump.
When exercising with diabetes, it is important to remember that insulin and other diabetes medications may need to be adjusted to account for the lower blood sugars from improved insulin use. You may also need to alter how much you eat to accommodate the extra sugar use by muscles during activity. To safely engage in exercise, you’ll want to check blood sugar more frequently than usual, particularly just before the activity and for a few hours afterward. As always, keep careful records when embarking on a new regimen, so that you can track which adjustments work well and which don’t.
Summer also means that I find myself working with our local camp committee. As I write this, we’re completing the final planning for our American Diabetes Association Diabetes Camp for children. ADA camps are an amazing opportunity, both for kids with diabetes and for health care providers willing to volunteer to spend a week or more somewhere in the great outdoors.
For children, camp can provide a safe and fun place where they are just like everyone else around them and can learn more about how to care for their diabetes from role models and peers. Camps are often the setting where younger campers first get a chance to give their own shots or change their infusion sets with supervision, as well as choose their own food from kid-friendly menus. For health care providers, camps offer an opportunity to hang out with a great group of kids and young adults while acquiring knowledge and skills. Then they can take what they’ve learned back to their day jobs to improve the way they care for others with diabetes.
So, whether you’re young or old, a person with diabetes or a health care provider (or both), put down this magazine for a few minutes, get off the couch, lace up your tennis shoes or hiking boots, and head outdoors!