By: Nicole Johnson
Baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and hockey are all sports that proclaim, “It’s autumn.”
Like many of us, I have learned some lessons about diabetes and exercise the hard way. I’m still learning.
At some point we all might have a moment of crisis while “playing” with diabetes. The key is to be prepared.
Participating in team sports is a great thing because of the motivation that comes with competition. For someone with diabetes, there are so many wonderful examples of such determination—Will Cross, Gary Hall, Jr., and Pam Fernandez, to name a few.
Many athletes demonstrate to us that when you have something to fight for, you become a better person. Your discipline increases, your mind becomes sharper and you better define who you are and want to be. Plus, you fight harder for control over your diabetes.
Sounds like the magic potion for diabetes control. Get active, join a team, compete and success will result. For me, it is true.
Be prepared, have fun and play some ball this fall!
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Playing It Safe While You Exercise
Keep a blood glucose meter with you and have access to treatment at all times.
I always carry a dollar in my sock or pocket in case of an emergency, as well as a supply of glucose tablets for quick treatment of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
Test glucose before and after you exercise.
Experts warn not to exercise if your blood glucose is higher than 250 and if ketones are present. Check with your healthcare team to confirm at what blood glucose levels it is safe for you to engage in exercise. Even if ketones are negative, in most cases, exercise should be delayed for blood glucose levels of about 300 or above. I go for a walk when I have high numbers to get into my target range faster.
Eat a carbohydrate snack if your blood glucose is below 100 prior to exercising.
I always eat a snack before exercising: graham crackers, an apple or a granola bar. For me, a protein and carbohydrate combination is the best snack and the best treatment for lows that occur when I am exercising. In my experience, the protein helps stabilize the glucose for extended or resumed play.
Make sure the coach knows the signs of high and low blood glucose and is familiar with the appropriate emergency treatments.
Find a backup pair of eyes.
Pick someone who will observe you for signs of hypoglycemia. Blood glucose can sometimes drop quickly, and the excitement of an intense game may obscure the already ambiguous symptoms of low blood glucose.
Disconnect your pump or use a temporary basal rate during active sports.
Consider rigging up a special padded pocket under your uniform to keep the pump in place during activity. (I usually decrease my basal rate by 40 percent, but check with your diabetes care team to identify the best ways for you to handle exercise and your diabetes-related needs.)
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Nicole’s Halloween Tips
It’s Halloween time once again. Having diabetes doesn’t mean that your child should be spooked by the idea of tricks or treats.
There are many ways to help kids have fun on this special day. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Offer your kids a small cash reward in exchange for the candy they acquire.
- Have your child help you create a chart detailing the nutritional information of the candy. Together, decide which are the best choices and what times are most appropriate for enjoying the treats.
- Instead of “treating,” host a Halloween party in your child’s honor. Give everyone else the treats.
- Encourage your child to be the masked crusader of good will, giving candy to other kids on the street.