Diabetes Blogs

Diabetes and the Great Outdoors

hiking and diabetesAs a person with diabetes, do you like to hike, swim, bike, or go camping? If you're insulin-dependent, this can be somewhat daunting, especially if you like to camp in places that are far off the beaten path. Meanwhile, if you're a hiker or runner, you also need to be prepared. How do you handle such situations, and what preprations do you need to make so that everything goes smoothly? 

For diabetics, the benefits of exercise can't be overstated. Intermittent and intense exercise has been shown to improve heart function in type 2 diabetics, and improved cardiac function has wide-ranging benefits for your healgh. Thus, caution and prudence need not dampen your enthusiasm. 

Be Prepared

If you're taking part in strenuous or rigorous exercise, what do you bring along so that your blood sugar is well-maintained? There are currently many solutions to quick glucose replacement, including a plethora of energy bars, snacks, and gels, some of which are free of added sugar. 

Exercise can make you more sensitive to insulin for up to 24 hours, so care is needed when pushing your body during strenuous activities. 

When it comes to food and camping, there are threads on various forums where diabetics exchange ideas for meals and snacks that will help you control your blood sugars out in the wilderness. On Trails.com and Backpacker you'll also find articles and posts that are instructive and helpful. 

Ask for Advice

Your registered dietitan is a great resource for hints and ideas for camping foods, as well as ways to manage your diabetes while hiking or doing other outdoor activities. 

If you have a diabetic nurse educator or endocrinologist on your care team, these are also excellent people to ask for help prior to engaging in activities that may radically impact your condition and blood sugars. 
Meanwhile, diabetes forums like those mentioned above are also great places to seek like-minded peers who know something you may need to know. 

Know What You're Getting Into

If you're running a half-marathon, definitely talk to someone who can guide you about how that level of strenuous activity will need to be managed in terms of your diabetes. 

If you're going camping in a fully-appointed RV with a refrigerator and kitchen, storing and preparing appropriate foods will be almost just like home. 

However, if you're going backpacking into the absolute wilderness, your planning will need to be much more robust and circumspect.

Advice from experts and peers, and appropriate resources found online are all wonderful places to turn for support and information. Know before you go, talk to those in the know, and have safe fun out there, whatever you do!

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