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Diabetes - No Barrier for Sports

No Barrier for Sports
  • Feb 02
  • Endocrinology

Many sports achievers have won numerous medals after being diagnosed with diabetes yet it did not dither them from pursuing their passion. Wasim Akram is one such name in the sport of Cricket, who has lived this disease from the age of 29 and still has carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest fast bowler who has taken maximum wickets. Mind discipline is something that he emphasized on throughout his career which eventually did work for him.

Correlation between Sports and Diabetes

It is common practice to encourage physical exercise in someone who has Diabetes. Well, certainly physical exercise contributes to improving your health and general well being but don’t forget it can be fun too. As Diabetes is largely a condition that is managed by patients themselves on a day to day basis, it is very important to understand what happens to your body during exercise.This will help you to improve your blood glucose control, optimize your performance, avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) and ultimately have a better plan to suit the demands of your sports activity.

Having Diabetes should NOT be a barrier to exercise and sports activities, instead exercise can be both beneficial and enjoyable. It is important to have a personalized plan after assessment and discussion with your Sports Diabetologist.Changes to the dosage of your medications and food intake (calorie intake) may be needed to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) during and after exercise.Advice regarding the appropriate medications and food intake may need modifying for each person and each exercise regime .

Benefits of exercise

  • Stress buster
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Improve Diabetes Control
  • Reduced risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Healthy bones
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Tips to exercise safely :

  • Monitor blood sugars regularly
  • Be aware of how to prevent and treat Hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) and Hyperglycemia (high blood sugars)
  • Understand how different exercises affect your blood sugar level
  • Be aware of the intensity of the exercise and to anticipate fluctuation in blood sugar levels
  • You need to know your sensitivity to insulin (if you are on Insulin)
  • Need to know the sugar levels in types of food you eat
  • Should be able to do basic calculations

Individuals with Diabetes should be particularly aware of DOH ( Delayed Onset Hypoglycemia )  which can occur following  High Intensity Exercise ,  following extended duration activity. This can occur upto 24 hours after the cessation of exercise / activity and adjustment of food portions and or Insulin /Tablet dose will be necessary to prevent DOH.

Be careful of your sugar levels

It is good to keep a watch at your sugar levels and take appropriate action as suggested by your doctor.If you observe these symptoms for low or high sugar levels, it advisable to seek advise from Diabetologist with expertise in Sports Diabetes for  management plan to prevent problems during your exercise regime. All professional sportspersons have a specialized diet , exercise schedule  with assesment and advise from Diabetologist which brings the best in them and so can happen with you as well.

Low blood Sugar

  • sweating
  • weakness
  • anxiety
  • hungry
  • headache
  • difficult to concentrate
  • irritability

High blood sugar

  • feel very thirsty
  • have to pee a lot
  • feel very tired
  • have blurry vision
  • weight loss

Diet managing tips

  • Plan yourfood : Discuss with your dietician/ nutritionist / Diabetologiston your daily meal plan and know what you can eat
  • Eat in small portions : Every 3-4 hours make sure you eat something
  • Avoid junk food
  • Eat right: A healthy diet contains right mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats

Management of competitive athletes with Diabetes is often challenging to the Diabetologist than those routinely encountered in clinical practice.Type 1 Diabetes (Insulin started at the time of diagnosis of Diabetes) patients taking part in sports activity should have an effective management plan after considering the energy demands of the sports activity, intensity of training/competition ,the athletes goals,factors affecting glucose levels with strategy to allow safe and effective sports participation. General advise would largely remain the same for patients with Type 2 Diabetes ( Diabetes initially treated with tablets).

Competitive athletes with Diabetes treated with insulin are at risk of developing exercise induced hypoglycemia (low blood sugars), hyperglycemia (high blood sugars) and ketosis (increased acid level) brought on by physical activity and lack of insulin,especially when insulin is omitted or dose significantly reduced.

Insulin is required for the skeletal muscles to use glucose as  energy source.When insulin level is low or absent  skeletal muscles are forced to use fat as energy source which leads to increased production and accumulation of acids (ketones) which will need urgent medical treatment and if not treated, can be dangerous. Individuals with Diabetes  should not exercise if insulin level is inadequate. Athletes with Diabetes on Insulin should not exercise if blood glucose level is more than 250 mg/dl and ketones present and if blood sugar level more than 300 mg/dl irrespective of ketones.

Most of these individuals have a strong zeal to excel in the sport and make most of their abilities.Professional advise and a well devised management plan from a Diabetologist can be an important tool for them to achieve their goals. Role models like WasimAkram are an inspiration to the diabetic athletes who has achieved everything with his sheer passion for sports along with discipline.

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