Gearing up for one of the events in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure? David Weingard, cycling enthusiast and founder and CEO of Fit4D — a diabetes coaching service “created to improve the lives of people living with diabetes and chronic conditions worldwide” — gives his top exercise tips to help cyclists with diabetes prepare for this important and inspiring event:
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 36 years old, working at Microsoft and training for an upcoming race. I was so overwhelmed and was confused about the diagnosis because I had no family history of diabetes and was physically fit. A veteran of triathlon races, I was committed to rebuilding my life and providing positive energy to the diabetes community, all while coping with my condition on a 24/7 basis.
I was fortunate enough to meet a great diabetes educator — a clinician who, through human touch, taught me how to manage my diabetes and gave me the support I needed. This sparked the idea to establish Fit4D — a diabetes coaching service that delivers scalable and effective programs through an optimized mix of technology and human-based interactions.
Gradually, I learned how to successfully race with diabetes, and within a year I had completed the famous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. My love and passion for racing and helping people overcome their diabetes has helped me become heavily involved with organizations that are raising awareness, such as the American Diabetes Association (ADA), Diabetes Research Institute, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). I have fund-raised on behalf of JDRF and have traveled across the U.S. speaking to people with diabetes to empower and give them hope and to share my experience.
I will be taking part in New York’s Tour De Cure in September 2018 and am hugely excited. Remember, the Tour de Cure isn’t just a bike ride (or walk or run) — it’s an adventure where thousands of participants come together, share experiences, support each other, and develop friendships while raising money to support people living with diabetes (30.3 million people in the U.S., to be exact). Exercise is critical for long-term physical and mental health, particularly for people with diabetes. Mentally, we need positive energy (and endorphins) to combat the 24/7 strain of the condition, and physically, we need to help our bodies stay strong and avoid the short-term effects and long-term complications of diabetes.
Tour de Cure tips
Here are my ultimate tips for participants of all fitness levels to ensure you have full confidence in your ability to manage your diabetes and to allow you to enjoy every moment of the ride:
1. Detailed record-keeping is a key factor for realizing the full benefits of exercise while minimizing blood sugar swings. You can reference these records to repeat workouts — your body should yield similar results most of the time.
2. For those who are taking insulin, try to exercise with the least possible amount of insulin in your body, as this will minimize lows. For example, before breakfast is a great time to work out. If you need to exercise in the evening, try to do so more than five hours after your short-term insulin bolus.
3. When exercising for more than one hour, consider eating an energy bar or drinking an electrolyte drink during the workout. Your body needs these carbs to replenish the muscles and limit fatigue. Experiment with a bolus at 50–75 percent of the normal amount. For longer workouts of several hours, 25 percent of the bolus may be the correct amount.
4. Always carry more carbs than you think you will need. Energy gels such as Gu and PowerGel have about 20–30 grams of carbohydrate per serving and are perfect for aerobic exercise. Drink water with them. Clif Bloks (from the makers of Clif Bars) are another great option.
5. For new workout routines, bring a meter and check your blood glucose throughout the exercise. Then record the results so that you can improve for the next time. Our bodies perform best when keeping our blood glucose in the range of roughly 80–100 mg/dl. The closer we keep our blood glucose to that goal, the better and stronger our performance.
6. Always check your blood glucose before, during, and after exercise. Expect lows roughly 2–6 hours after long aerobic efforts.
7. A concentrated carbohdyrate energy bar (such as a PowerBar) is better eaten over 30–40 minutes so as to not “overload” the body. You might need closer to 75 percent of your normal bolus, unless you will be working out for many hours after.
8. Water is your best friend. Dehydration will usually cause your blood glucose to rise, so make sure to drink enough, especially in warmer weather.
9. Having a good training partner will make the workouts more enjoyable. It is also a good idea for safety in case of a diabetes emergency.
10. Hang in there on the tough days. You will have highs and lows during exercise (hopefully very few lows) — remember that easier moments are right around the corner.
Bonus Tip: Use an iPod holder to carry an insulin pump or CGM device during exercise.
Now that your exercise tips are in place, be sure to have your bike and diabetes equipment prepped for the journey ahead.
• Spare tube/tire
• CO2 cartridge/pump
• Water bottles
• Food, energy drinks
• Bike jersey, shorts, shoes
• Spare carbs (energy bars, electrolyte drinks, gels, crackers — find the products that work for you)
• Spare tubing for your insulin pump
• Blood glucose monitoring kit(s) and supplies
Whatever distance you plan on riding, make the most of it and the people you meet along the way. Remember that your hard work is making an impact for the millions of people living with diabetes.
Good luck and see you on the road!
Want to learn more about exercising with diabetes? Read “Exercise Myths and Facts,” “Making Exercise More Fun,” and “Picking the Right Activity to Meet Your Fitness Goals.”
Fit4D’s mission is to improve the lives of people living with diabetes and chronic conditions worldwide. Fit4D delivers scalable and effective member programs through an optimized mix of its technology platform and human-based touch points. The Fit4D clinical team of certified diabetes educators (CDEs) is comprised of nurses, dietitians, exercise physiologists, pharmacists, and social workers who are passionate about empowering people with diabetes to live rich, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Fit4D’s Fortune 500 clients include pharmaceutical, payer, provider and wellness companies. Fit4D has also engaged in numerous joint initiatives with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association, and Diabetes Research Institute.
© Copyright 2018 Fit4D (Fitness4Diabetics LLC)