Running is one of the best ways to combat the effects of diabetes, especially diabetes of the Type II variety. Not only can running help you quickly burn calories, but it also offers the benefits of lower blood glucose levels, less resistant cellular fat, and improved insulin efficiency – all benefits which can better help a diabetic manage their disease. Moreover, running offers a natural way to realize such improvements; while there are numerous diabetes-fighting medications out there, the recent link established between actos and bladder cancer may give some people pause before embarking on a medication-intensive regimen. Running provides a viable alternative for some people with those concerns.
There’s really not much for a diabetic to dislike as far as running is concerned. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks associated with the activity. For someone who is a diabetic and also a runner, the sport can cause changes in blood glucose levels that, if not properly addressed, can lead to hypoglycemia. What precautions can be taken to minimize these risks? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Stretch religiously: Since blood glucose levels can destabilize more easily in injured runners, it is important that you remain as healthy as possible at all times. Understandably, it is likely impossible to avoid minor strains and tears over a long period of running. But you should still make every effort to stretch regularly, so as to minimize that chance.
Establish and maintain a routine: Exercise can affect different diabetics in different ways, and blood glucose levels can potentially change more following a morning run than an evening jog, or vice versa. So as to always have a good idea of your body’s response, it’s best to keep your workout schedule consistent; for example, you might always run in the morning after eating breakfast.
Partner up or communicate: No matter how prepared, it is a fact of diabetic life that something can happen at any time. For this reason, it is optimal to have a running buddy who can be there in case of hypoglycemia – or, at the very least, you should always tell a spouse or a friend when you are headed out and where you are going.
Never run empty-handed: In addition to a watch and a good pair of shoes, diabetics should always bring nutrient gels (ex. GU) with them on every run. This allows for quick access to sugar in case you feel your blood glucose levels dropping. You may also want to carry a glucose meter just to be extra secure.
These are the main precautions that you can take to minimize your chance of hypoglycemia during (or following) a run. While the benefits offered to the diabetic by running are undoubtedly numerous, it’s always important to keep these risks and precautions in mind before lacing up your shoes and heading outside.