Swimming Helps Fight Diabetes. It provides specific advantages for fighting the symptoms of diabetes, including fluctuations in blood sugar, obesity, and stroke.
1. Cardiovascular fitness:
Swimming allows for blood and oxygen to be pumped more efficiently because you are constantly moving.
Unlike sports such as football, rugby and golf, swimming does not strain your joints by having you expend energy and then rest. It also uses upper and lower body muscles at the same time, which could benefit people with diabetic neuropathy, who suffer from numbness. Intensity will vary, depending on your motivation for swimming, but per hour it can burn 350-420 calories and caution should be taken for beginners as hypoglycemic attacks can occur without proper preparation.
2. Managing diabetes when swimming:
Swimming once or twice a week should not require excessive management, depending on how many lengths you swim per session. Keeping your blood sugar level above 12 mmol/l is necessary, however long you are planning to swim, as blood sugars lower than this can lead to early hypos. If your blood sugar is lower, consuming glucose tablets or several sips of a glucose drink can provide you with a necessary sugar boost. When your session is finished, consume more sugar immediately and a big meal later on to prevent hypos further in the day.
3. Starting up regular swimming:
People at risk of hypoglycemia looking to take up swimming on a regular basis are urged to see their doctor beforehand to assess their current health state and outline initial goals. If you are unfamiliar with consistent swimming, the intensity of an hour-long session can lead to hypos during and after a session. For this reason, it is unadvised for beginners to swim alone, especially if you cannot identify symptoms of high and low blood sugars. Once you have found a routine that works for you, and feel confident managing your diabetes, you can eventually start swimming on your own.
4. Swimming regularly:
Whether professionally, training for an event or to improve fitness, regular swimming will require frequent blood testing and keeping plenty of glucose on you at all times. Training days can require reductions of quick acting insulin and long lasting insulin, whereas match days, such as a marathon open water events, may require you to consult your doctor see how much insulin you could decrease your injections by. When training, glucose should be consumed every 30 minutes, but this may not be possible when performing in a race with a set time or distance that lasts longer. This is why for longer, intense events, a more dramatic decrease in insulin could be necessary in the build-up to the event.
5. Swimming do's and don'ts:
You should also never swim without medical identification if you are at risk of suffering hypos. Keeping something worn around your wrist is the best way of establishing that you have diabetes should you require help in the water. Protective footwear should also be worn if you are planning to swim in the ocean, where rocks or broken shells could cut your feet and potentially cause complications.