Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Taking Your Diabetes On A Cruise

by Jan Chait

Glacier-capped mountains peered down on pine forests. The scent of the trees mingled with the briny smell of the ocean as the ship cut a swath through mirror-smooth water. I leaned back and took a sip of steaming hot coffee. Up on the sun deck, a woman was greeting the day with a yoga routine.

It was going to be the perfect cruise. While it wasn’t the first cruise I’d been on, it was the first where I was determined to take advantage of all the offerings a cruise ship has to offer that can help with diabetes control. I would ride a stationary bicycle while watching the coast slide by. I would eat sensibly. I would walk around neighborhoods that were as foreign to me as my own was familiar.

In years past, just as winter was wearing on us, spring break signaled that it was time for a trip to warmer climes. The grandchildren and I would board a child-friendly ship bound for the Bahamas or to the Caribbean. On ships filled with the shrieks of children and the smell of sunscreen, we’d bask in the sun, lazing the day away.

This time, we waited for the heat of summer and headed north, to Alaska. While the ship catered more to the middle-aged crowd than to the sandbox set, it did have programs geared toward children from toddlers through teens. (My tween and teen were so busy with their new friends, I’d have thought I was alone if not for their clothing littering the stateroom.)

While the kids kept busy and active, however, my plans for healthy cruising went somewhat awry. I did eat some nutritious, low-fat foods. But my intentions to perform lots of physical activity were not realized. Something on the ship triggered my asthma, so I had difficulty breathing. In addition, the chilly and damp weather kicked my arthritis into high gear, so it was difficult to move. And I forgot to pack extra shoes, so I had only the sandals I was wearing when I left the house, which meant I didn’t have footwear suitable for the gym. (While cruise ships generally have clothing for sale, few have shoes. If you’re desperate, however, you may be able to go shoe shopping while the ship is in port.)

Nonetheless, would I do it again, even with the glitches? In a heartbeat.

One thing is common on all the cruise ships I’ve been on: They’re very diabetes-friendly. From fitness centers and spas to menus that cater to nearly every dietary need, these floating resorts do all they can to meet your special needs.

Getting some exercise
Yes, there’s shuffleboard. But there’s a whole lot more on today’s ships designed to get your heart pumping faster.

If nothing else, you’re going to get some walking in. Cruise ships can be nearly as long as four football fields placed end to end. If you need to use a wheelchair, most cruise ships have handicapped-accessible staterooms and public areas. Even if you’re just a bit “creaky,” as I was on this cruise, there’s an easy way to get from one end of the ship to the other: Take the elevator to the Promenade Deck and make your way to the elevator that’s nearest your destination. In between, there are plenty of deck chairs and storage chests to sit down on and rest along the way.

Shipboard gyms or fitness centers are generally located at the front of the ship on an upper deck and have a wall of glass so you can watch the scenery as you work out. Imagine riding a stationary bike or walking or jogging on a treadmill while viewing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Ocean or the whales and wilderness of Alaska. Strength-training equipment also is generally available, as are fitness classes and seminars on a variety of subjects.

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Also in this article:
Cruise Checklist



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