Physical activity comes in many forms. You can obtain health benefits from continuing to do simple things, such as, taking the stairs, working in the garden, playing with your kids, mowing your lawn, walking around the mall, cycling, swimming, or golfing. If you like to get outdoors during the summer months, you should know that the high heat and humidity of summer have a greater effect on people with chronic conditions than they do on others. If you live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, here are some tips to stay safe when the temperature starts to soar.
1. Keep cool
When you sweat profusely while exercising in high heat, it is easy to become dehydrated. Dehydration leads to a rise in blood sugar (glucose) levels, which leads to frequent urination and, as a result, further dehydration and even-higher blood sugar. And if your treatment includes insulin, dehydration reduces blood supply to the skin resulting in less absorption of injected insulin.
Dr. Michael Sarin is a certified diabetes educator, and a member of Diabetes Canada’s Diabetes Educator Section. He retired from medicine in 2020 and is a former associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He says, “For fun, I have a support group, "Walk and Talk Diabetes. Our members walk 5 km Saturday mornings at Sunnybrook Park.” His advice:
On extremely hot and humid days drink plenty of fluids 30 minutes before exercise, and then drink at least eight ounces every 20 minutes. After exercise, drink enough to feel as if you have more than quenched your thirst. Avoid sugary drinks and full-strength fruit juices, caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which can all increase dehydration.
2. Dial down the intensity
Slow down on hot days, adds Dr. Sarin. “Exercise intensity drives internal body temperatures. So slowing down your pace will do more than drinking an extra glass of water.”
Try to restrict outdoor exercise to the cooler temperatures of the early morning and evening. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, consider mall walking or exercising at a community centre or pool.
3. Stay on track
Avoid the temptation to go barefoot or to wear open-toe sandals. If you have neuropathy (an inability to feel sensations in the feet) you could stub your toe, or you might not feel the heat of beach sand and burn your feet. Check your feet regularly for cuts and blisters, and consider socks made of perspiration-wicking fabric to help keep your feet dry and healthy.
4. Protect your medication and supplies
When you travel on holidays or are in the heat for an extended period, transport your insulin and testing supplies in a cooler with an ice pack or in an insulated lunch bag. Never leave them in your car where temperatures can rapidly climb.
Did you know?
This September, Diabetes Canada is encouraging Canadians to Lace up to End Diabetes through a virtual fundraiser where participants choose their activity (walk, run, ride, dance, etc.) and set their pace. Every distance and dollar helps fund education, support services, advocacy, and diabetes research that can lead to the next big medical breakthrough. Challenge yourself or rally a team to #LaceUpYourWay and raise funds to help bring us one step closer to a cure. Visit Lace Up to End Diabetes for details.
This updated article originally appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Summer 2018.
Author: Barb Gormley
Category Tags: Healthy Living;
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