5 Tips for Playing Sports With Diabetes

World Diabetes Day, Soccer

Diabetes is a chronic disease where the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to release energy into the cells. In the long term, a lack of insulin can be life-threatening and lead to organ failure.

Did you know that in 2015 more than 400 million adults suffered from diabetes? Did you know it is estimated that in 2040, this number will skyrocket to more than 640 million adults?

To address public concern about the illness, the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization wanted to create an awareness campaign that would put diabetes in the public and political spotlight. In 1991, the two groups launched World Diabetes Day on November 14. Reaching more than 1 billion people in 160 countries, today World Diabetes Day is the largest diabetes awareness campaign.

Contrary to what many people believe, diabetes does not only affect people who are overweight. In fact, there are many athletes who suffer from diabetes, mostly Type 1. Every athlete should keep his or her health in check, but if he or she happens to suffer from diabetes they need to travel the extra mile to ensure they remain healthy.

While not many athletes will suffer from diabetes Type 2, there are a few people who have the gene in their DNA. In this case, they need to  lead a healthy and active lifestyle to keep the illness in check. However, athletes who suffer from diabetes Type 1 need to keep quite a bit of things in mind when it comes to exercising risk-free:

1- Keep blood sugar under excellent control.

Before exercising, measure your blood sugar. If it is greater than 70mg/dl, then you exercise. However, if it is lower, then make sure to have a snack prior to your routine. Symptoms of low blood sugar can include excessive sweating and fatigue. While exercising, people already experience this. Athletes must be extra sensitive to their body signals.

2- Prepare for any sports event.

If you have a game or another event, then make sure to have a supply of glucose and a health kit ready for you as the adrenaline rush produced by exercising can cause blood sugar levels to rise.

3- Always snack.

Make sure to always snack before exercising and to carry extra carbohydrates with you at all times. Fifteen grams of carbs is usually enough to exercise 30-45 minutes.

4- Always have your insulin pump connected.

Use a stronger than usual adhesive for your pump sites so that sweat does not make them come off. Exercised muscles do not absorb insulin well. Make sure to not inject the muscles most used in exercise. If you are a runner, then avoid injecting insulin into your thigh.

5- Keep your nutrition on point.

Having around six small, evenly spaced out meals daily will keep your blood sugar levels stable. These meals should contain carbohydrates, protein and good fats. Do not overeat before an exercise routine, simply maintain a balanced diet. As always, stay hydrated!

There are many athletes who suffer from diabetes, and this should not be a discouraging factor for them. Do not let diabetes keep you from doing what you love. If you want to exercise, then play soccer or simply to be active. Just know you are perfectly capable of doing so. The best advice is to be in constant harmony with your body and mind to understand your body alerts and signals at all times.

Photo via The Faces of Diabetes

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Hi! My name is Dominique Muñiz, I am 18 years old and I live in the Dominican Republic. In case you weren’t sure, the Dominican Republic is a small island in the Caribbean. The D.R. is a Spanish-speaking country and though I’ve been living here my whole life, I am bilingual. This is because there is a lot of tourism here, so we’re constantly interacting with foreigners (and everybody knows that the international language is english). On top of this, I studied in an american-based school, so my entire high-school education was in English. I am currently in my first year of college, studying Film making where I hope I can pursue my passion for acting and writing. Soccer has always been my favorite sport which is why I was thrilled to see an opportunity where I could work writing about it! Well, in short, this is me. Welcome to Girls Soccer Network!