Playing Sports with Diabetes: Risk Factors and Benefits

diabetes and sports

Having diabetes doesn’t have to be an obstacle to enjoying sports, workouts, or other physical activities. As a matter of fact, physical activity is often recommended as a part of the treatment for type 2 diabetes. However, if you do have diabetes (especially type 1), it is important to know as much as you can about the relationship between diabetes and sports.

The Risk of Sports Activity with Diabetes

The liver plays a role in glucose production. Glycogen is a multibranched chain of glucose that serves as energy storage and is kept in the liver until needed. When blood glucose levels decrease, a hormone called glucagon is activated and communicates with the liver to start converting glycogen into glucose.

Having diabetes impacts one critical aspect of exercise – the way your body regulates the level of glucose. During exercise, our muscles take glucose from our bloodstream with the help of insulin. However, insulin also needs to keep a low profile because a high level of insulin sends signals to the liver not to produce more glucose.

Although this process may look complicated it happens naturally. But, if you have diabetes, one of two things can happen. Either you can’t get sugar in your cells due to lack of insulin or insulin resistance, or you can try to increase your insulin levels and end up with too much insulin in your body, which tells the liver to stop producing glucose. As a consequence, you end up with low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia.

Research shows that the best way to deal with this is to supplement with carbs before and after engaging in a physical activity.

Diabetes and Sport

A study by the American College of Sports Medicine found that physical activity can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58%. Additionally, regular exercise helps regulate our blood pressure, glucose control, and cardiovascular health.

Another study looked at the link between diabetes and sports and suggested that participating in physical activities can reduce insulin needs in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. It can also improve bone health, cardiorespiratory fitness, and psychosocial well-being.

Final Word

Having diabetes shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying a sport you like, and that can benefit your overall health. But, knowing that diabetes and sports have a complex relationship, always keep track of your blood sugar levels. Listen to your body.

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