Don’t allow the heat to keep you indoors. We tell our patients they can participate in outdoor activities and enjoy all types of weather as long as they take a few precautions.”
Follow these tips to help manage your diabetes while enjoying the outdoors during summer:
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important for everyone during physical activity, and it’s especially critical if you have diabetes.
- Avoid becoming dehydrated. Carry small bottles of water or low-calorie electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks in a backpack or on a belt while you’re hiking or playing sports.
3. Adjust your insulin as needed. Ask your provider or diabetes educator how you should adjust your insulin (and sometimes eat extra carbohydrates) before exercising. Typically, your first few doctor’s visits focus on urgent issues, such as getting diabetes under control. Ask about how to adjust your insulin so you can prepare to be physically active. Fix appointment and check
- Test your blood sugar levels frequently. Since hot temperatures can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, it’s a good idea to test more often. That way, you can take appropriate and immediate action to keep your levels stable. You should continue frequent monitoring for several hours after you’re done with your workout or other activity. That’s because the effects of activities on blood sugars usually last for a longer period of time.
- Keep items to treat low blood sugar with you. This includes glucose tabs or glucose gel. If you’re at high risk for very low blood sugar (if you have frequent low blood sugar or had very low blood sugar previously), you should also have a glucagon kit available.
- Take some snacks with you. Some snacks can serve as a meal replacement while others help prevent low blood sugar. Discuss possible options with your dietitian.
- Protect your medication and supplies. Take proactive steps to protect your insulin, glucagon kit and other supplies before you head outdoors, regardless of the temperature. Consider a car cooler that plugs into a 12-volt car adapter to keep your supplies at the proper temperature. This will keep the temperature stable for some time. If you’re going away from your car for an extended period, you’ll need to take your supplies along with you. If you are on the insulin pump, be sure to protect your insulin pump from high temperatures. Depending on the situation and how long your activity will be, you might simply need to monitor your glucose more often. In certain circumstances (if it’s extremely hot or you’re out for an extended amount of time) consider using long-acting insulin temporarily along with a meal insulin injection instead of an insulin pump.
8. Avoid sunburn. You can get sunburned while skiing on the slopes or while hiking in the summer. Sunburn stresses your body and can raise blood sugar levels. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear protective eye gear.
9. Finally, limit how much time you spend outside in extreme temperatures. “While we advise staying active during the peak winter or summer months, we also tell my patients to try to take advantage of outdoor activities when temperatures aren’t too extreme,”. By taking a few precautions, you can enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle in almost any weather.