Diabetes - No barrier to Sports | Diabetes Doctor in Bangalore
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April, 2023

Diabetes - No Barrier to Sports

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 with this disease since the age of 29 and still has carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest fast bowlers who has taken maximum wickets. Mind discipline is something that he emphasized throughout his career which eventually did work for him. You can consult with a diabetes doctor in Bangalore to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your condition.

Correlation between Sports and Diabetes

Encouraging physical exercise is a widely accepted practice for individuals with Diabetes. Although exercise can greatly improve health and overall well-being, it's important to remember that it can also be an enjoyable activity. Since Diabetes is primarily self-managed on a daily basis, understanding how exercise affects the body is crucial to effectively control blood glucose levels, optimizing performance, and avoiding hypoglycemia. 

Despite having Diabetes, engaging in exercise and sports activities should not be seen as a hindrance, as they can provide many benefits. It's important to have a customized plan created after consultation with a Sports Diabetologist, who may recommend changes to medication dosages and calorie intake to prevent low blood sugar levels 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 sugar) and Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Understand how different exercises affect your blood sugar level
  • Be aware of the intensity of the exercise and 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 the 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 up to 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 on your sugar levels and take appropriate action as suggested by your doctor. If you observe these symptoms for low or high sugar levels, it is advisable to seek advice from a Diabetologist with expertise in Sports Diabetes for a management plan to prevent problems during your exercise regime. Professional athletes typically follow a customized diet and exercise regimen designed in consultation with a Diabetologist, which helps them perform at their best. Similarly, you too can benefit from a tailored plan that takes into account your specific needs and goals.
  • 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 your food:  Discuss with your dietician/ nutritionist / Diabetologist 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 the right mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats

Handling athletes with Diabetes who compete professionally can be a tougher task for Diabetologists compared to the usual cases they handle in their practice. Athletes with Type 1 Diabetes (where insulin treatment begins at the time of diagnosis) who participate in sports require a well-planned management approach that takes into account the energy requirements of the activity, the level of intensity of the training/competition, the athlete's objectives, and factors that may impact glucose levels. This is important to create a safe and effective sports participation plan. General advice 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.

For skeletal muscles to utilize glucose as an energy source, insulin is necessary. In situations where insulin levels are low or absent, the muscles resort to using fat as an energy source, which results in the production and buildup of acids (ketones). This can be a serious issue that requires prompt medical attention. Therefore, individuals with Diabetes should avoid exercising if their insulin levels are insufficient. Athletes with Diabetes on Insulin should not exercise if their blood glucose level is more than 250 mg/dl and ketones present and if their blood sugar level is more than 300 mg/dl irrespective of ketones.

Most of these individuals have a strong zeal to excel in the sport and make the most of their abilities. Role models like Wasim Akram are an inspiration to diabetic athletes, who have achieved everything with their sheer passion for sports along with discipline. Sakra World Hospital is considered the best hospital in Bangalore for diabetes treatment. Professional advice and a well-devised management plan from a Diabetologist can be important tools to achieve their goals.



Dr Manjunath Malige

Director - Diabetes & Endocrinology

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