Diabetes and sports

Many young people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes can despair of reaching their sporting goals, but it is still possible to compete at a high level, or to take part in endurance sports if you are diabetic.

At The London Clinic we have a team of experts in helping diabetic sportsmen and women to achieve their potential.

Our services include more stringent monitoring of your treatment and making sure that your diabetes is as tightly controlled as possible.

We work closely with you so that you understand the need to match your energy input (what you eat) with your energy output (how hard you train, what matches/races you are involved in).

It is particularly important to keep an eye on your cardiovascular system, and to monitor you for signs of any of the diabetes complications. A good preventive measure is always to invest in the best and the most appropriate foot gear, particularly if your sport involves running.

Blood glucose control in sports

Different types of sports and exercise can pose different challenges when it comes to controlling blood glucose levels:

  • A marathon runner’s biggest problem is hypoglycaemia. This can develop within half an hour of embarking on a long run. It is important to match up insulin doses or oral diabetes medication with food intake so that this can be avoided. One strategy is to do timed insulin injections, so that your levels do not get too high during exercise. It is also important to avoid delayed hypoglycaemia, which can develop several hours after exercise if you do not stock up on enough carbohydrates once training or competing has finished.
  • A sprinter is more likely to have problems with hyperglycaemia. Short, high intensity sporting activity is usually associated with higher levels of competitiveness, which leads to adrenalin release into the blood. This releases large amounts of glucose from the liver, and if your insulin doses are not well-timed, blood glucose spikes can occur.

Each case is different, as each sport is different and your responses to exercise are unique. Getting your treatment regimen, your treatment timings and your nutritional intake right can help you avoid both hypo- and hyperglycaemia.