(Image via ESPN)
Type I Diabetes and Exercise
In February, I was glued to the TV, obsessed with the Winter Olympics in Sochi. I love the Olympics and just about any sport is worth watching, in my opinion. I got pulled into the cross country ski races more than usual this year because the announcers made those distance races so interesting and fun to watch. As I obsessively hung on each word one afternoon, I learned one of the American cross country racers, named Kris Freeman, has Type I Diabetes (TID).
(Image via Kris Freeman’s Twitter account)
This made me gasp out loud with surprise. You see TID’s suffer from an autoimmune disease where their pancreas no longer produces insulin which puts them at risk for high blood sugars and they are dependent on insulin injections for the rest of their lives. It also puts TID’s at risk for sever low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and for such rigorous endurance races as Kris trains for and participates in, not only is his ability to perform but perform these races as one of the best in the United States and compete on the world stage is amazing to me.
I was also so astounded by Kris Freeman and his accomplishments because I have a particular interest in TID. My oldest daughter (Ella, Age 8) was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes two years ago. Ella handles this broken pancreas situation extraordinarily well. She is my hero in what she endures every day in managing this disease. We manage her blood sugars well, but there is such a constant effort in managing blood sugars for an 8 year old who is active in dance, swimming, basketball and all sorts of other kid stuff. I cannot fully wrap my head around the effort and planning Kris Freeman must go through on a daily basis.
What I have already realized, but seeing it at the Olympics brought new definition to, is that TID’s do not have to be limited. They can and should be active. Whether is it at an Olympic level or at an 8 year old level, finding what is fun and motivating is what a person needs to find and participate in. And that is my message to anyone dealing with TID who might read this blog post. Don’t be afraid to be active. You need to be for your health and well being. Talk with your endocrinologist and diabetic educators to learn what a safe level of activity is for you and how to manage your insulin and carbohydrate (the sugar producing food that needs to be managed in TID) intake with activity.
Type one diabetes can be a scary thing. It can make you feel like you should limit what you do, but that couldn’t’ be further from the truth. If Kris Freeman can ski 50 kilometers and Ella can do all sorts of sports and be well managed, anyone can find some kind of activity to keep them well and healthy.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback below!