Diabetes is one disease that cannot be left unattended and unresolved. It can have a cascading effect on the rest of your vitals. Almost 90% of all diabetes cases are of Type 2 diabetes, which occurs largely due to extra body weight and physical inactivity. Running is one activity that is fuss-free and demands very little in terms of equipment and attire, which makes it a relatively easy workout option for diabetics who are looking for some light-to-moderate exercise in their daily life.
At the same time, running does require certain lifestyle adjustments, especially with regard to nutrition and recovery. For runners who are diabetic, these changes can be extremely important to ensure that their blood sugar levels remain stable both during and after their run. If you’re a runner with Type 1 or 2 diabetes or thinking about taking up running, take this World Health Day to look at our list of precautions to remain safe and make the most of your runs.
Check with your doctor first
As with any new lifestyle activity, having your doctor’s go-ahead is extremely important before setting that morning-run alarm. They can determine if your medication routine needs any changes based on your increased physical activity and advise on any nutrition changes you have to make. This is particularly crucial for those with Type 1 as they may need to adjust their insulin dosage constantly, and sometimes, even mid-run.
Carry essential supplies
Adequate glucose tablets, emergency medication, a glucose meter, an id of sorts (indicating your medical condition) and for those who require it, an insulin pump—these essential items all need a place in your running kit. Carrying healthy mid-run snacks is equally vital; don’t always count on picking something up on the way. If feel your levels dip, stop immediately and refuel. Running with a buddy who can attend to an emergency would be the ideal situation, but if that’s not possible, make sure that you inform a friend or family member when you go running.
Time your runs effectively
Any physical activity will have a positive effect on your insulin levels, so you can note the pattern of your blood sugar hikes and time your runs to maximize the benefits. For example, if your levels tend to rise after meals, try and work in late-evening or night runs a couple of hours after dinner. Running post-meals can also help avoid the blood-glucose dip that comes with exercise.
Don’t overdo the sports drinks
This is particularly for those who’ve taken up running as a way to lose weight and control their diabetes. While it’s important to have mid-run refreshments that ensure your blood glucose remains stable, sports drinks and bars often come with extra calories that can affect your weight loss goals. For runs shorter than an hour, stick to healthy, low-cal options to sustain your energy and sugar levels.
Watch out for injuries
Runners with diabetes must be particularly careful about blisters, cuts and any other open injuries as they risk a greater chance of infections and complications than the rest. Ensure that you’re following a steady and gradual approach when building your mileage, and invest in cushioned running shoes that guard your feet against all terrain. Pay attention to the smallest discomforts caused due to footwear, running style or running surface, and don’t hesitate to seek medical help for even the smallest cuts.