Be cool, safe when exercising with diabetesBy
If you are living with diabetes, your exercise needs don’t take a holiday during the summer months. Elaine Blackwood, diabetes educator with Diabetes Management & Supplies, advises taking a few extra steps to prepare for the heat of summer instead of taking a long vacation from physical activity.
Exercising inside or in the water is one way to address the summer heat. Swimming or exercising in water provides great options for people living with diabetes who want to stay fit and cool at the same time. Readers Digest says a water aerobics class may be the best way to get a full-body workout in the pool — and you don’t even need to know how to swim. If there’s upbeat music playing and you’re with a nice group of people, you may even feel a little bit like you’re at a party.
When you take your workout outside or out of the water, take into consideration the temperature and humidity of your region. Chicago and New Orleans may be in the same time zone, but the conditions are often quite different.
The Mayo Clinic cautions that exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on the body and puts you at risk of serious illness. “Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your core body temperature,” the clinic explains. “To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.”
Drink lots of fluids and be on the look-out for these heat-related illnesses:
- Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.
- Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C) and you may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke.
- Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. You may develop confusion and irritability. You should seek immediate medical attention.
The heat illness warning signs include muscle cramps, nausea/vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness and confusion. For more from the Mayo Clinic, check out Heat and exercise: Keeping cool in hot weather.
If you are living with diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes, it’s important to understand that regular exercise is a part of the prescription for healthier living and you have several choices that let you find the best exercise or combinations of exercise. DMS offers diabetes self-management and diabetes education services. For more information on specific exercise needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929.
Contact DMS diabetes educator Elaine Blackwood at EBlackwood@diabetesms.com.