Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists


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The Outdoor Adventurer with Type 1 Diabetes

Sep 11, 2012

Individuals with type 1 diabetes are no longer tied to more traditional routines and activities in order to maintain blood glucose values within an acceptable range.  Insulin pumps, sensors, rapid acting insulin and data downloads are tools that provide the opportunity for individuals to gain an understanding of blood glucose response during physical activities of all types, including the extreme.  There are stories of individuals with diabetes that are endurance dogsled drivers, ironman triathletes, cross country skiers, snowboarders, mountain climbers, marathoners and extreme bike racers.  It is no longer just the elite athlete that is attempting these feats, but also teens through adults often with the help of coaching programs now dedicated to getting people with type 1 diabetes “out.” 

If you have individuals in your practice ready to challenge themselves in sport, there are now a variety of resources to get them on their way (and help you, too!).
A great starting spot is Sheri Colberg’s  “Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook.”  It provides basic information on diabetes and sport, and highlights a variety of athletes and their own stories of challenges and successes. 

For more technical support, the new 2012 Medical Nutrition Therapy book from ADA has an entire chapter dedicated to nutrition for the athlete with diabetes. Online support for nutrition and exercise coaching is available through Team Wild and Integrated Diabetes.

InsulinDependence provides  opportunities for persons interested in pursuing their outdoor passion with others who also have type 1 diabetes.  There is also the option of teaming up with teens who like to exercise; from marathons and triathlons to cross country skiing and backpacking. 

Although “getting out” has always been a part of some individuals who live with type 1 diabetes; there is now a movement to include a wider circle of individuals and provide support from education through training. 

We, as educators, can help to guide our patients to resources that may enhance their ability and interest in taking sport to a whole new level. If you have resources you use to help guide your patients in sport, please share them!

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