Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Planning an Active Summer

by Richard M. Weil, MEd, CDE

Tour de Cure. Tour de Cure is a noncompetitive bicycle ride to raise money for diabetes research. The events offer a variety of routes and distances (10–100 miles) for everyone from the occasional rider to the more experienced cyclist. Events take place in almost every state, with volunteers, snacks, drinks, and support vehicles all along the way to ensure a safe and enjoyable day for riders of all abilities. You can find out more about Tour de Cure at the American Diabetes Association Web site.

Heart Walk. Sponsored by the American Heart Association, the Heart Walk is a noncompetitive walking event that’s geared to businesses. Companies participate by forming teams of employees and their family members and friends to raise money to fight heart disease and stroke. Most walks are less than five miles. You can contact the AHA to find out where your local chapter is located and about an Heart Walk event near you.

Training for an active vacation
No matter what your fitness level, it helps to do some physical conditioning prior to your trip. For example, if you’ve decided to take a walking tour, find out how much you’ll be expected to walk each day and then start to train for that. If you’re going to take a biking tour, get out there every weekend and pedal for a couple of hours (see “Weekly Walking Schedule” for a walking training schedule and “Weekly Stationary Bike Program” for a biking program). Training in advance of your trip will also help you get to know how your blood sugar responds to exercise and what you can do to manage it.

Here are some training tips:

  • Start slowly and don’t expect too much too soon. If you’ve signed up for a walking tour that travels 5 miles per day, start training by doing your longest walk of the last few weeks and build up to 5 miles. Walk 3–4 times per week and increase your distance or time by 10% each week. For example, if your longest walk to date is 2 miles in 40 minutes, increase the amount of time you spend walking by four minutes each week. Following the 10% rule will get you to the next level of fitness quickly and safely.
  • Set a weekly plan for training days and stick to the plan. Consistency is one of the hallmarks of effective training.
  • If you need motivation and support, find a partner with similar abilities to train with. The person you plan to travel with is a good choice.
  • Take breaks from training when your body is tired. At each workout, you should feel refreshed and stronger than, or at least as strong as, you felt at your previous workout. If not, you may be overtraining and need to take a few days off. Most people come back from a break stronger than ever, so listen to your body.

Because walking, hiking, and other recreational activities involve exertion, there’s a chance that you’ll become dehydrated or that your blood sugar level will drop, particularly if you take insulin. Here are some guidelines to follow that will assure your safety.

Dehydration. It is critical that you stay well-hydrated, especially in warm weather, and particularly when you have diabetes and if you are over age 60 (but true for people under age 60, too). Proper hydration should begin before you exercise, continue once you’ve begun, and continue after exercise. Fluid replacement should approximate sweat and urine losses, and weight loss from activity should not exceed 2% of body weight. You can weigh yourself nude before and after exercise to get a sense of how much fluid you need. Some people can lose up to 2 liters of fluid per hour (1 liter of water weighs 2.3 pounds). Here are guidelines for proper hydration:



Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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